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Legal requirements

You must consider your legal requirements when starting your business. If you do not follow legislative requirements and regulations, your business can face serious penalties. A range of legal requirements may affect your business.

Business structure

  • You must keep all registrations for your business structure up to date. For example, your business name must be renewed when due and you must lodge annual returns if you operate a company.
  • The Corporations Act 2001 (Cwlth) details requirements relating to companies and financial products and services.
  • Taxation requirements of businesses include GST and PAYG.
  • If you go into a partnership, your solicitor should draw up a written contract before you begin trading or make any financial commitments.

Leasing premises

  • Retail shop leases must comply with the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994.
  • Your solicitor should read any lease before you sign to ensure the terms and conditions are appropriate and you understand your obligations before you sign.
  • If you operate a home business, your local council may limit the number of people who can work there. You can use the local government directory to find contact details for your local council.

Intellectual property

  • Protecting your intellectual property (IP) gives you the legal entitlement to that IP. You can protect your IP using trademarks, patents and designs.
  • You will need to review and, if appropriate, renew IP protection regularly (e.g. trademarks must be renewed every 10 years).
  • IP issues are complex and you should seek specialist advice.


  • Legally, when you employ staff you must meet certain employer obligations.
  • You must select the right person for your business in line with the job description and selection criteria you have specified. Read how to recruit and interview staff.
  • You should make offers of employment in writing, including conditions of awards, agreements and the employment contract.
  • All employees should attend induction training to become familiar with the workplace and any work health and safety issues. A carefully developed induction training process can protect your business from risks including health, safety and environmental (HSE) issues, discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. Read about keeping your workplace safe and your legal obligations when training staff.
  • Before dismissing a staff member you must ensure you've followed due process and are not breaching the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

Supplier agreements

  • Getting your agreements with suppliers in writing will minimise misunderstandings and disagreements. Agreements may include creditor terms, supply conditions and any marketing and promotion support.

Risk management

  • Manage risks by avoiding them, minimising their negative effects, transferring them to another party, or deciding to accept some of the possible consequences should they arise.
  • Several forms of insurance can help with risk management. Read more about risk management.
  • Learn more about managing risk when starting up.

Privacy and information


  • Contract law is complex. Your solicitor can develop standard agreements for your business to reduce confusion and costs.
  • All parties must have the legal capacity to enter into a contract.
  • A contract of sale involves an exchange of goods, services, or property from the seller to the buyer for an agreed amount. It refers to a specific type of legal contract.

Health, safety and the environment (HSE)

Legal requirements checklist

  • Before you start your business, seek legal advice from your solicitor and other specialist advisers.
  • Review your legal requirements on a regular basis. Your business may change over the years, and so may legislation.

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