10 Legal Documents For Accountants To Help Small Businesses

Relevant Legal Documents for Accountants 

1. Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is a legal document that outlines what personal information a business will collect from its users from its website and how that information will be used.

A privacy policy also covers the following :

  • How the information will be collected
  • Data storage methods for personal information
  • Disclosure of personal information
  • The management of personal information
  • Who the personal information will be passed on to and whether the information will be sent overseas.

Privacy policies also include clauses setting out the security and storage of personal information and whether your website uses cookies and/or supports third-party sites. 

If a company or business collects personal information from their customers directly or through online data, they’re required to use a Privacy policy. The Privacy Act 1988(Cth) outlines the criteria that determine whether a business must use a privacy policy. 

Furthermore, many online providers such as Google and Facebook require businesses to have a privacy policy in order to use their services. Your small business clients also benefit from using a privacy policy because it’ll show their customers that their privacy is taken seriously, it will limit liability, and it will build trust between them and their customers.

Australian businesses that operate outside of Australia may be required to use a privacy policy as most jurisdictions outside Australia, for example, California and the European Union, require privacy policies for all businesses. 

Therefore your business clients must utilise a privacy policy to avoid breaking the law.

2. Division 7A Loan Agreement

A Division 7A Loan Agreement is a document used to formalise loans between a private company and a recipient. This document is commonly used because companies often loan money to individuals, particularly if they’re members or officeholders within the company. 

It’s crucial for businesses to use a Division 7A agreement because if a business lends money to a shareholder or associate without using this agreement, the loan could count toward that individual’s annual income for tax purposes. 

Therefore, businesses must use this agreement to avoid the loan being classified as a dividend. 

The Division 7A Loan Agreement  covers the following terms:

  • Company and borrower details
  • Interest
  • Loan term and repayments
  • Definitions of key terms 
  • An acknowledgment of the agreement

3. Commercial Lease Agreement (Non-Retail)

A commercial lease agreement (Non-Retail) is a document that is used to establish legal relationships between tenants and landlords. They can be used by both landlords and tenants to establish lease terms, legal obligations, and rights.

Businesses commonly use this document when they’re looking to rent offices and other commercial spaces. 

This document outlines the following:

  • The leased property
  • Details about the landlord and tenant
  • The identities of the landlord and tenant
  • Length of the lease 
  • Rent and termination
  • Renewal or sublease options
  • Conditions applicable to tenants
  • Payment frequency and amount of rent
  • The rights a tenant or landlord has following a breach of the agreement
  • Conditions for terminating

The agreement can be used by small businesses in the following circumstances:

  • When they’re interested in leasing a commercial space that isn’t a retail space, such as a store, for example, a yard, factory, or warehouse
  • When they want  to protect their commercial property by ensuring it’s being used in accordance with its intended or agreed use
  • When they want to ensure the other party is informed regarding the conditions in relation to using the property and the consequences if they don’t comply with the conditions

It’s important to note that this document is different from a Retail Commercial Lease. This is because terms relating to retail leases are usually stricter and fall under state legislation.

4. Non-Disclosure Agreement (Mutual)

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (Mutual) document is a legally binding agreement between two parties that protects the disclosure of information between them. By using this document, both parties promise to protect each other’s information. Both parties must sign the agreement for it to be binding. Therefore it’s essential to sign the agreement prior to confidential information being shared.

This type of NDA is commonly used by businesses in their partnerships with other businesses and also in business-to-business (B2B) services. This agreement is crucial for small businesses to prevent the other party from disclosing confidential information to third parties. Similarly, competing businesses will also be prevented from gaining access to confidential information.  

This document covers the following:

  • An explanation of the confidential information
  • The parties’ confidentiality obligations and rights
  • How the sensitive information will be protected
  • How at the end of the agreement, the confidential information will be returned
  • Guidelines for the information’s proper use
  • The agreement will outline the situations in which confidential information can be disclosed 

5. Contractor Agreement (Individual)

A Contractor Agreement(Individual) is an agreement between a business and an independent contractor. This agreement is useful for businesses to utilise as it allows them to hire independent contractors (they can also be a freelancer or a consultant) to perform work for their business. Other benefits for small businesses using independent contractors are that they can reduce their costs as they’re not hiring an employee, and using independent contractors provides flexibility.

This agreement covers the following:

  • The nature of the services to be performed
  • A description of the tasks that will be performed by the independent contractor 
  • Applicable indemnities and warranties
  • Payment and expenses
  • Confidentiality
  • Termination
  • Insurance 
  • Intellectual property

It’s also important to remember here that a contractor is not an employee and that they don’t have the same entitlements to leave and superannuation that employees do.

6. Non-Disclosure Agreement (One Way)

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (One Way) is a legal document that is commonly used by businesses that allow them to disclose confidential information to another party while legally preventing the other party from disclosing that information to any person or entity

It’s important to note that this type of NDA only applies to the individual or business it is issued to. 

For this document to be legally binding, both parties must sign it. Therefore it’s essential that it’s signed before confidential information is disclosed in order to retain ownership and to prevent the disclosure of the confidential information

This agreement covers the following:

  • Each party’s confidentiality obligations and rights
  • The security measures used to protect sensitive information
  • How the confidential information will be returned at the end of the agreement 
  • Guidelines to ensure the information is properly used 
  • The situations in which confidential information can be disclosed 
  • An explanation of the confidential information

7. Discretionary Trust Deed

A discretionary trust deed is a document that outlines the terms relating to the trust. This document is commonly used by businesses. When creating a trust deed, businesses should ensure that it’s witnessed by someone who is not a party to the trust. Businesses benefit from using discretionary trusts as they provide businesses with greater control over how they choose to distribute capital gains and income to their beneficiaries.

Discretionary trust deeds cover the following:

  • The establishment of the trust
  • They establish who the beneficiaries of the trust will be
  • How income and capital will be distributed to the beneficiaries
  • How the trust will be wound up 
  • A relevant indemnity
  • How future trustees will be appointed and removed
  • Who’s responsible for the trust’s financial records
  • How trustees will be appointed, including remuneration and powers 
  • Details of all the parties
  • How the trust can be varied 
  • The length of the trust. 

Discretionary trust deeds are useful in the following situations:

  • To create a family trust
  • Gifting money or property to be held in trust

8. Share Certificate

A Share Certificate is a document that represents a shareholder’s ownership of shares in a company. A share certificate is useful because it provides legal proof that a shareholder owns shares. 

Businesses benefit from using this document as they can keep track of which shares have been allocated, the type of shares, and the amount paid for the shares.

It’s also important to note that businesses are legally required to provide share certificates to shareholders no later than two months after the shareholder has purchased their share. 

Share certificates cover the following:

  • How the shares will be allocated
  • The number of shares allocated
  • Class of shares 
  • How much was paid for the allocated shares and the amount unpaid where applicable
  • Shareholder details
  • The law and jurisdiction governing the share certificate

9. Bookkeeping Service Agreement

A Bookkeeping Service Agreement is a document that outlines the tasks a bookkeeper will perform for a recipient, which is typically a business.

This agreement also covers the following:

  • The payment that will be provided for services and their price
  • How the payment will be made
  • The services that will be performed 
  • How the tasks will be performed
  • When the tasks will be performed
  • Confidentiality 
  • Non-solicitation of personnel and clients
  • Which materials are required for the completion of the tasks
  • How the agreement will be terminated 
  • Mediation processes
  • Copyright 
  • Warranty for the services performed
  • How to request an alteration to the services being performed
  • Intellectual property 
  • How to reject specific services from being performed
  • Limitation of liability and waivers
  • How the agreement can be terminated by either the recipient or the service provider 

This agreement is useful for businesses in the following circumstances:

  • When a business owner is interested in receiving bookkeeping services from another entity
  • When an individual is interested in providing bookkeeping services for a business
  • This agreement will ensure that the services provided to a business are performed properly and that the individual who has been hired to provide the service is paid 
  • The agreement will also assist in preventing disputes from occurring during the agreement’s term

10. Deed of Debt Forgiveness

A Deed of Debt Forgiveness is a document that sets out in writing that a debtor no longer has to pay a debt. If a debtor owes multiple debts, this document will also clarify which debt is forgiven. 

Businesses can use this document when they have made a loan or multiple loans to someone, and they no longer require the individual to pay it back.

This document outlines the following:

  • The terms and conditions of the debt being forgiven 
  • On what date the loan is forgiven
  • The date the loan was provided
  • The amount of debt that has not been repaid

This document is useful for businesses to assist individuals who are struggling or unable to pay their debt due to reasons including financial hardships or health issues.

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