We recently invited Joanna Oakey, Director of Aspect Legalto a webinar on the topic, ‘The Legal Challenges of a Growing Business’
Here’s what she said -
The number one common issue isn't necessarily the one that I see most often, but it is the one that I see when it comes in and can have the most massive impacts, and that's personal liability. Personal liability, either through your role as a director or through personal guarantees that you have given as a director. It can be a real trap and many businesses aren't aware of the fact that when some of your suppliers ask you to sign personal guarantees, you don't have to sign them necessarily.
Often, personal guarantees will come up in leases, in copier arrangements, and in lots of different areas. But the problem is by signing personal guarantees, you are linking that liability to you personally, through the business. You are sort of breaking that corporate veil that protects you. So be very careful about signing personal guarantees and there is always another way, and we almost always find alternative ways for our clients, other than personal guarantees. Finance is something completely different, and there may or may not be alternatives for that. But we are talking about the commercial agreements that you might be entering into.
We had this period of time through the first lockdowns last year, where we had some of the protection of some changes that had come into place temporarily to protect directors, who may have had this risk of insolvency in the business but they are gone now and we don't have those protections in place anymore. Over the last few years, we've had a few clients, who've been in this situation, and it's horrendous when clients, business owners, and directors are threatened with insolvent trading personal liability. It is a very emotional process so you just have to be super careful about that. And that is where a constant relationship with your accountant and insight into financials are very important.