Setting up in business as a speech writer
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Setting up in business as a speech writer – some legal aspects


Jamie Hunt

© 2010 Legal Clarity Ltd

In all likelihood, the simplest way to set up in business as a speech writer is as a sole trader/proprietor. This has the advantage of requiring little formality, but probably leaves you exposed with unlimited liability for the debts of your business and statements and promises you make in the course of your business.

Alternatively you could establish a company or corporation with limited liability to own and run your business. Companies usually have a separate legal personality and exist independently from their owners/shareholders. If the company happens to have more debts or liabilities than it has assets to pay them, then the owners are not usually required to stand behind the company for those debts other than to the extent of the amount they agreed to invest in the shares of the company.

The disadvantage is that there is a usually a certain amount of formality around companies. As well as registering a company in the first place, there are usually ongoing requirements such as notifying the relevant registry with changes in the company’s details, directors, etc and annual requirements for accounts or general returns about the company.

As a company has a separate legal existence from its owners, it can continue to exist independently of its owners. The death or retirement of a shareholder can be easily dealt with by transferring the shares. New investors can subscribe for new shares in the company and new directors/officers can be brought onto the Board of the company to increase the management skills for the company and its business.

Companies also tend to have a stature with many people in the business community that sole traders simply do not have. This reputational advantage may lead to your business gaining customers or a line of credit from suppliers that a sole trader would struggle to obtain.

The formalities of establishing and maintaining a company may well have a cost over and above that of a sole trader. However, this cost should be balanced against the flexibility and status of companies and the protection offered by limited liability.

Your business name, brand or original creative output is likely to have a value and the law recognises these rights. If you have a particularly distinctive name or brand you may want to consider applying for a trade mark in that name or brand to protect it from use by others in the same kind of business as you. If you are producing original creative work (such as your speeches), copyright is likely to be automatically established in that work or speech. You may wish to consider who owns the copyright in a speech (e.g. you or your customer). Only the copyright owner is free to use it as they wish or to copy it. Whilst you don’t usually have to claim copyright in an original work, doing so doesn’t hurt and can make it clear to the outside world that you claim ownership.

Jamie Hunt, Legal Clarity Ltd

The information provided in this article is intended as a general guide only. It is not exhaustive or tailored to your individual circumstances. You should seek specific independent legal advice from lawyers qualified in the appropriate jurisdiction.

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