If you’re starting your own business, you need to know the law.
It is surely the foundation upon which you build your enterprise, and without knowing how to legally safeguard yourself and your company, you will more than likely face major problems sooner rather than later.
Which is why StartUp was proud to announce that the very first StartUp Academy would feature vital information and words of wisdom from the Lawyers Business Group (LBG).
And very popular it proved to be. On the morning of 10 February, a select group of entrepreneurs and business people gathered over breakfast to listen to a man in the know about all things connected to law in the UAE.
TV cameras from popular channel Dubai One were also on hand to chart the events of the day, talking to many of the attendees as well as the speakers and StartUp editor Neil King.
Mr Yousuf Khalifa Bin Hammad, owner of Hammad & Associates Advocates and Legal Consultants and vice president of the LBG gave an engrossing account of why and how cooperating with the law is an important first step for any new business, before going on to explain and advise on some of the most common perils and pitfalls start-ups face.
Held at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the group of entrepreneurs was welcomed to the workshop by LBG group coordinator and client relationship manager, Nadine Jaafar, who broke the ice with a quick-fire exercise designed to establish the important steps which lead to a business becoming established.
Presented with a series of eleven steps a new business needs to take, the Academy attendees were asked to rank them in sequential order. Steps included ‘open bank account’, ‘apply for employment visas’, ‘pick your business’, ‘take legal advice’, and others.
Of course ‘pick your business’ came first, but a very close second was ‘take legal advice’, emphasising the importance of the information Mr Hammad was about to impart.
As a board member of the LBG, Mr Hammad is the head of one of seven prominent UAE law firms which have offered free consultations to all entrepreneurs with start-up businesses or SMEs. As such, he is well versed in the legal needs, issues and questions of people looking to start their own company.
The ‘eleven steps’ exercise served as a launch pad for part one of Mr Hammad’s presentation, taking each point in order and explaining what the importance of each step, and in many cases how to go about doing it.
After a short break for refreshments and some all-important networking, the group of attendees returned for an altogether different session, this time looking at some of the major issues faced by start-ups, and the laws and regulations surrounding them.
One of the key topics Mr Hammad addressed was the protection of intellectual property.
Intellectual property rights provide the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of any scientific, literary or artistic work. They allow the creators, or owners of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works, to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation.
Patents, trademark, industrial designs and copyrights are all relevant to SMEs and help entrepreneurs to stop other people from stealing their ideas. They are fundamental for anybody who wants to go into business without the fear that somebody else may be copying them.
Ideas, logos, designs and work itself can be protected, putting you in a much stronger position than if you were to leave yourself open.
The formation of your business must also done correctly in order to ensure you are covered from a legal perspective.
Whether you are setting up and on-shore company or a Free Zone company, there are important regulations to follow, including partnering with a UAE national and registration with the relevant bodies such as Ministry of Labor and Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai.
A topic which drew a lot of questions from the audience was that of bounced cheques - an issue which has been in the news in recent months.
Mr Hammad made clear the law surrounding bounced cheques and also how to deal with legal proceedings surrounding the issue. This led to a conversation about the distinction between criminal and civil cases, and which offences constitute either.
By the end of the session, the attendees were full of praise for the Academy. Mr Hammad was happy to talk further with many members of the audience after the close of the workshop, and there can be little doubt that the entrepreneurs in the room were left with a much surer footing on which to start their business.