Legal Eagle Masterclass with Nick Gould

On 17th July Nick Gould, ‘the common-sense lawyer with mismatched shoes!’ hosted a Legal Eagle Masterclass aimed at new business start-ups.

As a solicitor and partner of the Gunnercooke law firm in London as well as the founding director of a group called SME Alliance which supports and lobbies for small and bigger companies which have been destroyed by the banks over the years Nick’s expertise, knowledge and experience is invaluable, and provides new businesses with essential guidance often not available when setting up on your own

Nick explained how setting up a business in the UK was actually simpler than most places in the world:

There are more than 4 million small businesses in the UK (so those up to 50 employees);

SMEs (so those up to 249 employees) account for 99 per cent of all enterprise in the UK, 60 per cent plus of private sector employment and 48 per cent plus of private sector turnover.

SMEs employ more than 12 million people.

SMEs generate £1.8 trillion in turnover.

How to starting trading?

‘The easiest way to start to trade is in your own name and on your own behalf. So, there is nothing to stop me starting to trade later on today under the name Nick Gould. This route does not separate me as an individual from my business. Customers and suppliers and anyone else I decide to contract with during my business life, will be contracting with me, personally and as an individual. All the income/profits are mine, but so are all the risks and liabilities. I will be personally liable for all debts of my business. But because the tax, accounting and National Insurance issues are straight-forward this is the preferred route for many businesses. To start as a sole trader, register with HMRC as being self- employed. You will need to keep accounting records of your business and income and expenses and to file self-assessment tax forms. Management decisions are easy - no arguments or partnership or shareholder disputes (a point not to be under-estimated as we will see) as all the decisions will be yours.’

Nick then explained the pros and cons around setting up as Private Limited Company and gave some examples of real life situations.

He also explained what the different types of IP rights were including patents, copyright, Database right, UK Product Design, Community Designs and Trade Marks.  

Why register a trademark?

‘It is important to protect your “brand” and one way to do this is by registering a trademark. Registration allows you to use your mark exclusively in the UK. Brand loyalty is highly sought after but it needs a trademark to which loyalty can attach. Achieving extensive brand recognition and loyalty is a key ingredient to commercial success.

When you register a trademark, it becomes your property and as such you can sell it, licence it to others or franchise it. It also makes it easier for you to take steps against anyone who uses your trademark without your permission.

If someone else uses the “brand” or trademark that you have not registered, you will still be able to take legal action against them using the common-law action of “passing off'. However, to be successful in such an action you must be able to establish that the mark is yours, that you have built up a reputation in the mark and that you have suffered a loss because someone else has used your mark. Success can be very difficult and will be very expensive’

The information relayed by Nick sparked interesting conversations and debates within the group, so much so they have requested a follow up session with Nick in November to talk about how they have used the advice in their own personal situations. The group conversation and networking was a real success. Huge thank you to Nick for his time!

A few comments included:

‘I have learnt a lot of new interesting facts about setting up a company, the finances and legal bits. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere with a lot of different backgrounds and knowledge. It will be great to meet up again’ Amy

‘I am taking away a lot of useful and key information on how to properly set up my business’ Olanike

‘This was a great, open discussion!’ Rochette

To enquire about the next masterclass with Nick please email education@fashion-enter.com