Start-ups: Why free legal document templates could cost you more

For business owners and entrepreneurs caught up in the chaos and excitement of launching a start-up, it’s easy to neglect parts of the business that aren’t immediately linked to sales and growth.

With so many free templates out there for legal documents, it can be tempting to simply download a boilerplate text to cover things like your contractual terms and conditions, service level agreements, and data protection policies.

However, as with many things in life, you often get what you pay for. And those free contracts could come back to bite you, with very big and expensive teeth, years down the line.

Do you know who wrote the document your start-up is using?

Was it an experienced business law solicitor? Someone who knows how to write a legal contract? Without this knowledge, you’re putting your trust in an unknown party, and that’s not a risk we’d recommend for your business.

And if the contract is old or out of date, this may mean there are voids in the contract that weren’t there when it was drafted.

Even if a free contract sounds good, you don’t know what you don’t know.

It’s important to remember that most industries don’t have standard contracts. Your business is unique, and so should be the wording of your contracts.

You could be leaving opportunities to gain revenue on the table, or saddling yourself with obligations you don’t need, all because you don’t know what is missing from your contracts.

Legal language is often confusing to the layperson.

Although there is a move towards reducing ‘legalise’ where possible in contracts, the key is often in the nuance of details and phrases. And even a simple word like ‘or’ can be scrutinised and taken to mean something it doesn’t if a contract isn’t worded carefully.

Nothing makes ‘no win no fee’ solicitors happier than seeing a template contract. At the end of the day, you can’t stop people looking for loopholes in your legal documentation, that’s just the world we live in. But you can do something to cover your back…

Your contracts need bespoke legal expertise, and that’s not as expensive as you might think.

At Attwells, our London, Essex and Suffolk based business law team are on hand to provide practical, timely and sensible guidance on what you need from your contract wording. We’ll protect you from loopholes, omissions and oversights that could leave you wide open to a legal challenge from clients or even departing directors. And when it comes to reviewing your current contract documents, we’ll cut through the legalise and give you clear advice designed to empower your business. With a fixed fee service available for most situations, our support won’t cost as much as you might think.