For Sectors

Family Businesses

Providing specialist legal advice to family-owned businesses

At Clarkson Wright & Jakes we have extensive experience of working with small and medium sized family businesses across a variety of sectors. Our knowledgeable and experienced team engages lawyers from range of disciplines to ensure we can provide family businesses with a full service encompassing all aspects of corporate, commercial and private client law.

We understand that discussions concerning how the business is running and agreeing decisions to move the business forward can prove challenging for some family businesses. This can have significant consequences for the continuing success of the business and when considering changes in structure, ownership, banking or investment.  Business relationships with employees, suppliers and or customers may suffer where the management structure is not right.  

The CWJ team can assist family businesses with formalising all facets of the business to ensure that it is commercially sound and operates in the best way possible while respecting the personal interests of individual family members.

How we can help

Corporate and Commercial 

Our team of lawyers can assist you with:

  • Preparing, reviewing and amending the company’s constitution (Articles of Association)
  • Defining individual roles, relationships and structure within the business by formalizing arrangements including shareholder or partnership agreements and our employment team assisting with employment contracts.
  • Establishing a structure for regular meetings to ensure appropriate consultation and authority for decision making.
  • Drafting board minutes and resolutions to ensure compliance with the law. 
  • Succession planning to address the effect of retirement, incapacity, death and family changes, for instance divorce and marriage.
  • Business restructuring to ensure that goodwill is retained by the business on transfer and is not diminished when the owners retire.

Commercial Property

Property may be at the core of your transaction or incidental but will often be the single highest value element.  Our team can advise on a full range of commercial property transactions including intra-group transactions, working with Corporate & Commercial, options, refinancing and dealing with joint venture agreements as well as the leases and transfers.

Disputes 

We can advise you on business relationships that have broken down, including shareholder disputes, issues with directors or third parties such as customers and or suppliers.  We aim to resolve the issues in a cost effective and timely manner so that you can concentrate on growing the business.

Employment

Family business owners commonly end up dealing with HR issues, which can be time consuming or difficult to manage when dealing with someone who is also a friend or a family member.  The employment team at CWJ offer a range of invaluable services, including a retainer scheme and outsourced HR support to help manage those uncomfortable decisions.

Will and Estate Planning 

What will happen to the business on the owner’s death?  Should there be a sale of the business to a third party or should it be passed down to the children?   

Do the children want to carry on the family business?  If so, do they have working knowledge of the business?  Can they be trusted to continue the business in accordance with the current owner’s wishes, make the right decisions and is the current owner ready to relinquish control through ownership and voting rights?  

For some clients it is important that their business will pass to members of the family, for others it is more of an investment which will be sold on or prior to death.  Have you considered a business lasting power of attorney, appointing someone to make those important decisions concerning the business either when the owner is unavailable or loses mental capacity? 

We recommend that all business owners prepare a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney and regularly review and update them when necessary.

Divorce and Family Issues 

Our dedicated team of family lawyers have the knowledge and experience to provide clear and practical legal advice to guide you through the challenges involved in dealing with business assets.  However, we recommend that regular reviews of your business are carried out to prevent issues arising later.  Being prepared can be more cost effective than correcting the position after an event, particularly when somebody becomes entitled to a share of a business and has voting rights, which might interfere with the effective running of the business.    

For more information about how we can help your family business, please telephone Ben Madden on 01689 887845 or email ben.madden@cwj.co.uk