Katherine Hawes – Legal

Genene recently caught up with Katherine at a networking event, where she was speaking about some legal missteps some clients had made in the COVID-19 times. Naturally, Genene asked Katherine to share her insights in an article.

Yes, COVID 19 has had significant impacts on all our businesses. Yes, small businesses must make the necessary changes to respond to the implications. In this article, we are outlining the key issues that you need to consider for moving forward.

Business contracts are now a fundamental asset for any business. Therefore, we need to analyse the legal rights and obligations across the suite of contracts in any business and your supply chain.

Here are some potential impacts that you need to check on and make sure you have the correct legal advice to ensure compliance with current regulations:
• Employment contracts: there are now COVID related employment requirements around Work Health and Safety and changes to Worker’s
• Subcontractors: once again need to articulate their responsibilities V your responsibilities
• Deeds and Warranties: can you still supply for the time specified in the original contract
• Force Majeure: does it apply in your circumstances
• Loan Agreements: if you have entered a loan agreement with a third party other than a bank you may need to review this loan considering the economic outlook
• Shareholder and Partnership Agreements: these may become front of mind as people’s personal circumstances change
• Insurances reviews: now is the time.
The answer here is seeking legal advice if you are unsure that your Agreements and Contracts pass the tests.

Protecting your Critical Business Processes
The pandemic revealed how little we know about our critical services and assets and the best approach to protecting them. Businesses need to re-establish a cyber hygiene culture in the workforce, move to new models of managing access and monitoring activity on critical assets, and prioritize investment in cyber automation.

Supply Chains
Supply Chains are the lifeblood of most businesses. In the current climate, we would advise you to broaden your supply chain if you do not have exclusive arrangements within your existing contracts.

If those supply chains are international with preferential benefits, you need to ensure you do not get caught up in the circumvention of trade.

Governance and Compliance
Now is a time when your regulatory compliance across your organisation needs to be on point. For example, you need to be conscious of:
• Cybersecurity: protect your business assets and processes from IP infringements
• Anti-money laundering: ensure you have protections in place with your financial institution
• Trading terms supervision: beware of heading into debt recovery land
• Privacy management: in stressful times it is easy to make mistakes
• Data: back-up and protect is the regime.

The key message in the COVID era is that businesses need to shift their focus. You need to respond to the new opportunities and challenges that mean you future-proof your business. The new mantra is resilience, where you build on what you have in place to create new pathways to your customers.

You can contact Katherine Hawes of Digital Age Lawyers online at https://www.digitalagelawyers.com/

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