05/01/2017

Change the Face of your Business: 6 Steps to Avoid Being Sued

Accidents and misunderstandings can happen in any industry but the last thing any company wants is the hassle and stress of being sued.

Taking on a litigation case is a massive risk for any business, regardless of its size, because it requires a large sum of money to go to court.

Fundamentally, there is no guarantee that you will win, so there is the chance of losing all that hard-earned money; and you could end up paying the opponents legal fees too.

Essentially money is the deal-breaker but being sued also causes a lot of strain that is otherwise not needed. It is extremely time-consuming and expensive.

Ask any business owner and they will tell you the same thing; all they want is to get on with running a successful brand; not being dragged through the courts.

So how can you minimise the risk of being sued? Here are 6 key steps that will help you avoid the court of law.

  • Get insurance
This is absolutely crucial. Employer’s Liability Insurance is compulsory for all businesses and it covers you for any liability you may have for injury or death to your employees.

Elsewhere, Public Liability Insurance covers you for any liability or death to third parties, and damage to third parties property as a result of negligence by you or your employees.

Legal Expenses Insurance is vital to cover your legal costs, but check what your policy covers because often or not they can be limited in the amount covered, as well as the type of claims. A standard cover usually includes court costs, employing solicitors and accountancy fees.

  • Treat your staff and customers right
Customer service is imperative and it is the backbone to your business. If the customers are not happy, they won’t return to use your product/service, or worse, they could take you to court. A complaint should always be treated with the utmost respect.

If you fail to support your customers properly, you open yourself up to allegations. Be prompt with your responses and take a grievance seriously.

It is also important to retain your employee’s happiness. Employment disputes are a major cause of litigation and wrongful/ unfair dismissal are the most common types of claim. Treat everyone how you would like to be dealt with, and look after your workforce.

  • Stay above board
If your business does everything by the book and nothing illegal, the chances are no-one will sue you because they won’t have anything to back up their claim.

Know the law and your rights, as well as your employee’s rights and stick to them. Put policies in place and make sure they are adhered to.

For example; if the floor is wet, make sure your employee’s know the correct procedure to clean it up and put out a warning sign, before anyone slips. This minimises the risk of an accident occurring, and should a fall happen, you have backed yourself up legally.

Communicate to all employees what your policies are; make sure they know the basic do’s and don’ts; and comply with legislation.

  • Document everything
The statement ‘but I told him not to do it’ would not stand up in court. Why? Well because the claimant can argue that nothing was ever said. Nowadays, if you want to give the business a sense of security, you need to put everything in writing.

Even if something is said verbally and is agreed, follow it up with an email to document the important conversation. By doing so, neither party can deny the exchange at a later date. Any type of agreement, whether it is a contract, transaction or chat; get it in written form.

  • Run background checks when recruiting
What kind of staff are you taking on? You can minimise the risk of fraud taking place by running thorough background checks. Before recruiting anyone, run a CRB check and make sure that they are ‘harmless’ in terms of cons or schemes.

Have they previously taken anyone to court? Obviously if it wasn’t their fault this shouldn’t be penalised against, but you should take all court proceedings into account.

  • Pay your taxes on-time
As a business, you have a responsibility to pay corporate tax on-time and to report all your earnings. You can be sued if you are not paying the right amount of tax, and sooner or later the organisation which collects debt, be after you.

Whether it is HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), they will come after you if you are untrue.

Change the face of your business and follow the steps above to reduce the chances of being taken to court. Remember- being sued is costly but there are options available that can help by offering a funding solution to the costs of running a case.

This article was provided by Vannin Capital, specialists in litigation funding. The experts provide a risk-free solution to pursuing litigation for every business.