India has been witnessing the emergence of many new-age entrepreneurs, these are the people who have the urge to set-up and run their own businesses. They have idea, aim and objective, with a clear plan to enter in the business of their own. For a start-up to survive a sound flow of funds, adequate knowledge of market condition and proper resource management skills are of utmost skills. Apart from these, one of the most important aspects of the business field which young entrepreneurs often overlook is the understanding of the legal framework on the country where the start-up is operated.

All the countries have a set of legislations to govern the business environment. In India, as well, there are various laws and legislation that deal with the establishment and functioning of a business enterprise. They supervise the internal management as well as the external relations of the business. It is important for any entrepreneur to know and comply with these legislations, in order to ensure that the business does not land in any legal troubles.

Here are Five Legal Frameworks that Every Startup Owner Should Know –

Incorporation Laws

The first step to bring a start-up idea to reality is incorporation; every firm needs to be duly incorporated under relevant laws before it could start its business. The founders are free to register their firm in any category they want. There are different legislations for different types of venture. A Limited Liability Company has to be registered with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs under the LLP Act, 2008. A Private Limited Company needs to be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013. Partnerships can be registered under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932; though their registration is optional. For a sole-proprietor firm there is no registration required.

Labour Laws

Another important set of rules is the labour laws. It is morally and legally important to comply with the various labour laws including the laws on payment of wages, provident fund and gratuity, workplace sexual harassment, maternity benefits, etc. However if the start-up is registered under the ‘Start-Up India Initiative’, it can avail exemption from nine labour laws by signing a self-declaration, for a period of one-year from date of incorporation.  These laws are-

  • The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
  • The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
  • 1The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
  • The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948
  • The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946
  • The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
  • The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
  • The Trade Union Act, 1926
  • Building and Other Constructions Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996

Laws Relating to Intellectual Property Rights –

One of the most important regulations for start-ups who are dealing in new inventions or discoveries is the Intellectual Property Rights or IPR. It is important for start-ups to safeguard the novelty and uniqueness of their product or venture. Therefore, they should be very careful in registering various intellectual property including, products, service, venture, brand name, trade mark, discoveries, data algorithms under relevant laws.  Some of the Indian laws guarding the IPR are –

  • Trade Mark Act, 1999
  • The Patents Act, 1970
  • The Copyright Act, 1957
  • The Design Act, 2000
  • The IT Act, 2000
  • The GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
  • The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Act, 2001

Contract Laws-

For any business to function and operate, it is essential to make deals with other firms, government or individuals. All such deals should be governed by proper legal provisions. Every contract with employees, suppliers, stakeholders, debtors, investors, creditor or customers should be binding following the provisions of various laws including the Contracts Act 1872, Sales of Goods Act 1930 among others. As per the Indian Contract Act, 1872, all agreements are contracts if they are made by the free consent of parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration with a lawful object, and are not expressly declared to be void.

Laws Relating to Winding-Up of the Firm

No start-up owner would ever wish their firm to liquidate or wind up. However, under certain circumstances it becomes absolute necessary to close down the business. In such situation as well, the company owner should follow proper legal route to wind up the start-up. From the legal point of view, there are three ways to close a start-up. These are -

  • Fast Track Exit Mode
  • Court or Tribunal Route
  • Voluntary Closure

Of all the three ways, the Fast Track Exit Mode is the best suited for start-ups as it allows companies to speed-up the closing process at a lower cost and within a short time period. In order to apply for a fast track exit, a company should not have any assets and liabilities and not have had any business operation for the past year. If these two conditions are met, the company can be struck off the registrar of the Registrar of Companies (RoC).

For a venture to get properly established in the market, grow, diversify and succeed it is important that it does not land into any legal troubles. The consequences of not complying with the laws do not only affect the operations and productivity of the business, but also hurt the delicate goodwill of the firm. It is hence, necessary for any start-up to know, understand and comply with the legal framework and provisions.