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What Is Business Law? – Definition & Overview
Business law is a broad area of law. It covers many different types of laws and many different topics. This lesson explains generally what business law is and how it’s used.
Definition of Business Law
Business law encompasses all of the laws that dictate how to form and run a business. This includes all of the laws that govern how to start, buy, manage and close or sell any type of business. Business laws establish the rules that all businesses should follow. A savvy businessperson will be generally familiar with business laws and know when to seek the advice of a licensed attorney. Business law includes state and federal laws, as well as administrative regulations. Let’s take a look at some of the areas included under the umbrella of business law.
Starting a Business
Much of business law addresses the different types of business organizations. There are laws regarding how to properly form and run each type. This includes laws about entities such as corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. For example, let’s say I decide to start my own pet grooming business. I need to decide what type of business I want to be. Will this be a partnership? Will it be a sole proprietorship? What papers do I need to file in order to start this business? These questions fall under the laws that govern business entities. which are state laws. The type of entity I pick will also affect how I pay my federal income taxes. These, of course, are federal laws.
Next, what will my business be called? Let’s say I decide on Barks Bubbles as a name for my dog grooming company. Now I need to know if anyone else already has that name. This is a trademark question. Patents. copyrights and trademarks are part of intellectual property law. The federal law governs most intellectual property law. Then I need to know if I’ll require any special type of license for this business. Do groomers need a license? Am I allowed to have animals on my property, or do I need some sort of special permit? I’ll need to check my local and state laws to find out. How will I advertise my business? Am I allowed to say that I’m the ‘best in town?’ This question falls under consumer protection law. which can be federal or state law. Wow. That’s a lot of business law, and I’m not even open for business yet!
Buying a Business
Now let’s say I decide to buy a business instead. I’m going to buy Patty’s Pampered Pooches from my Aunt Patty. There are many business laws that govern how to buy a business. If I buy Patty’s business, do I now own the actual store? This is a real estate law question. Do I own the pet grooming equipment in the store? This is a property law question. Both of these fall under state law. Am I now the boss of Patty’s employees? This is an employment law question.
Can I start hiring my own employees and ordering supplies? This will involve contract law. since I’ll be making new agreements with people regarding my business and determining which of Patty’s agreements I need to uphold. Contracts are legally binding agreements made by two or more persons, enforceable by the courts. Businesses are involved in many different types of contracts, and as a result, there are many interesting cases involving breach of contract. A breach of contract is when one party doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain. It’s common for parties to dispute the terms of a business agreement or disagree on how the agreement should be performed.
For instance, consider the famous case of Locke v. Warner Bros. Inc. Sondra Locke was a longtime girlfriend of Clint Eastwood. When the two broke up, Locke sued Eastwood for support. As a part of their settlement, Eastwood negotiated a contract for Locke with Warner Bros. Locke was given a director’s contract, where Warner Bros. would pay Locke for any projects she directed or produced. Locke proposed more than 30 projects, but Warner Bros. never hired her. She sued Warner Bros. for breach of contract, saying that Warner Bros. never intended to hire her in the first place. After a court ruled that Locke had enough evidence to proceed with her case, the parties settled.
This case demonstrates the importance of making good contracts. A wise businessperson will be sure to enter contracts with a good understanding of the content and a good faith interest in upholding the contract.
Managing a Business
There are many laws that concern managing a business because there are many aspects involved in managing. As you can already see, running a business will involve a lot of employment law and contract law. For my new business, I’ll need to know how to hire, what my contracts should look like, what kind of benefits I have to provide, how to pay employee insurance and taxes and even how to properly fire an employee. Many of these employment and benefit laws are federal laws and regulated by government agencies. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency that enforces employment discrimination laws.
If I also decide to sell things as part of my pet grooming business, like dog collars or dog treats, then I’ll need to be familiar with the laws on sales. For businesses that conduct sales, it’s especially helpful to be familiar with the Uniform Commercial Code. or UCC. This publication governs sales and commercial paper and has been adopted in some form by almost all states.
What happens if I provide services but have trouble getting paid? Let’s say I groom several dogs for Victor’s Vet, but he won’t pay my bill. Can I demand payment or report him to the credit reporting agencies? This is a debt collection law question. Debt collection laws are mostly federal laws. For instance, many of our debt collection laws are found in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or the FDCPA, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
What happens if Victor just didn’t like my services? Let’s say Victor accuses me of purposely sabotaging his chances at a national dog show by giving his poodle a bad haircut. Can Victor sue me? And, if so, will his lawsuit be against me personally, or will it be against my Barks Bubbles business entity? This scenario falls under tort law. Torts are private, civil actions for wrongful deeds. Tort law is usually state law. This is an extensive area of the law and includes things like work injuries and negligence claims.
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California Repossession Law: What To Expect And How To Avoid It
Last updated April 15, 2016.
When a creditor comes to repossess your car. boat, or other property, do you know what to do? Here s what you need to know about California repossession law.
When can a creditor repossess my property in California?
Creditors generally retain the right to repossess the property you acquire with a purchase money loan. The most common example is an auto loan. so we’ll use that throughout the article. Keep in mind that the same applies to any property that is collateral for a loan. So, you borrow money to buy a car and the car secures the debt. If you stop paying, the lender can reclaim the property. It may choose to sue and get a judgment against you, but it’s not required as long as the repossession is peaceful.
In California, the lender may repossess your car as soon as you default on the loan, even if the payment is just one day late. The specific terms of your loan agreement may give you a grace period, so read it carefully. West’s Ann. Cal. Com. Code §§ 9601, 9609. In addition, the lender is entitled to repossess after default of any kind on the loan agreement. That means that not only is your car at risk if you miss a payment or pay late, but if you break another term of the loan agreement. For example, auto loans require that you keep the car insured. If you allow your insurance to lapse, your lender has the right to repossess.
You don’t have to be present for the lender to repossess your car. They can take the property from any publicly accessible area, including your driveway. However, a repossession agent can’t break into your house or into a locked or fenced area without permission from the legal owner of the property (you or your landlord).
Of course, just because the lender has the right to repossess doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do so. It’s much easier and cheaper for the lender if you simply continue to make your payments. They’ll only act to repossess if they believe that you’re not going to pay or that you’ll destroy the collateral.
Who can repossess property?
In California, two different types of individuals may repossess your car. First, your lender may hire a repossession agency. Repossession agencies must be licensed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). They must show you a BSIS ID if you ask for it. You can verify the license online or call BSIS at (916) 322-4000. An employee of the legal owner (probably the bank or the dealership) may also repossess the property; they don’t have to be licensed by BSIS.
After repossession, you ll have to pay for the storage of any personal items left in the car and some lone agreements may require you to pay the costs of repossession and storage of the car itself.
How can I avoid repossession?
If you honor the all of the terms of your loan agreement, the lender cannot repossess your car. If you default on one or more terms, you are at risk for repossession. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent it.
Reinstate the Loan
If you’ve missed one or more payments, the best option is pay all of the missed payments and all applicable late fees at once. This is called “reinstating the loan” or “curing the default.” Your loan agreement may or may not include provisions for reinstatement, but California law protects your right to reinstate the loan even after repossession, until the property is sold or otherwise disposed of. If you falsified information on your loan agreement, hid the car, used it to commit a crime, damaged the vehicle, or threatened violence against the repossession agent, you lose the right to reinstate the loan. In addition, you can only reinstate a loan once every 12 months and a maximum of twice over the course of the loan.
Contact Your Lender
If you can’t afford to pay all of your missed payments and late fees at once, you may reach out to your lender to ask for other options. Repossession is time consuming and expensive and many lenders will be willing to work with you to avoid that option. You may be able to negotiate a longer grace period or a lower interest rate, which will make payments easier.
Sell the Property
You may choose to sell the car yourself. If your car is repossessed, the lender will dispose of it at auction. If the car sells for less than you owe, you’re liable for the difference. If you organize a private sale, you’ll probably get a better price than you would at auction. Selling the car may be difficult, though. It will require the approval of your lender and they can refuse the sale for any reason or no reason at all. However, you may be able to use the lender’s refusal to protect yourself from liability for the deficiency if they receive less at auction than your private buyer offered.
Surrender the Property
You can also choose to surrender the car. You still lose it, but you may be able to negotiate a surrender as full payment of the loan. Then you won’t have to worry about a deficiency after the auction.
Refinance Your Loan
You can offer to refinance through the original lender or through a different lender. A refinanced loan will usually have a longer term, which means you’ll be paying more interest overall. If you choose to refinance, make sure that you can afford your new loan. Make sure it has a lower interest rate than your current one and don’t forget to check the fees. Consider also whether it’s worth refinancing. A new loan may last three to five years or more. If your car is already older, it may not be worth refinancing.
File for Bankruptcy
If you’re having trouble with more than one loan, bankruptcy may be a good option for you. When you file for bankruptcy, you get the protection of the automatic stay. The automatic stay stops all collection actions against you – including repossession. The bankruptcy process will give you some time to organize your finances without worrying about waking up and finding your car has been repossessed. Most debtors can keep their cars and other property through bankruptcy. In addition, you may only have to repay the loan up to the value of the car rather than repaying the full amount of the loan. Bankruptcy is a serious measure for serious debt problems, so reach out to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss whether it’s the right choice for you. If you car has been repossessed, but not yet sold at auction, you still can get the vehicle back through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy .
Don t let repossession take you by surprise.
Whenever you take out a loan, read the entire agreement carefully and make sure you understand everything in it. It will include details about a grace period and the steps your lender will take if you miss payments. If you are going to fall behind on your payments, start considering your options for avoiding repossession. The earlier you act, the easier it is to keep your car.
If you have missed several payments on your loan and are facing property repression, contact one of our experienced attorneys at Borowitz Clark. We have years of experience helping thousands of consumers successfully resolve their financial issues.