By Max Clarke

Entrepreneurs who risk expensive legal battles after being tempted to trust in handshakes rather than pay lawyers to draw up business contracts are set to benefit from a new, round-the-clock online service launched by the Forum of Private Business and LEGAL

In the present economic climate, struggling owner-managers often seek to sidestep lawyers' steep contract-writing fees — which can run into the thousands of pounds — but leave themselves open to expensive disputes if they do not put in place proper legal documentation in important areas such as partnership agreements, payment terms, powers of attorney and intellectual copyright.

The Forum, a leading not-for profit business support and lobbying organisation, has joined forces with legal specialist to give businesses access to a vast range of binding contracts and other documents which are updated in line with legislative changes'. They are available on demand and at the push of a button.

"It's all too common for small-business owners to agree deals without any sort of written contract," said Forum Chief Executive Phil Orford. "While steep lawyers' fees can be a costly headache, entrepreneurs should not cut corners when it comes to putting in place professional business contracts. Failing to do so can be even more damaging in the long-run — handshake agreements are just not enough.
"The forthcoming deregulation of legal services means there will be significantly more affordable alternative to using legal firms to gain the peace of mind that comes with drawing up proper contracts.

"By joining forces, the Forum of Private Business and are providing small-business owners with easily-accessible, cost-effective legal protection and expertise whenever they need it." was set up by established law firm, Last Cawthra Feather LLP, which offers legal advice to businesses and private individuals.

The company's Ajaz Ahmed, a former PC World employee, made his name as the brains behind innovative internet service provider success story Freeserve.

"Together, the Forum of Private Business and are providing a complete solution, and one that does not sit still,” said Mr Ahmed. “These contracts are not simply templates, they are live, working documents created to meet business owners' specific needs and are updated to reflect changes to the law.

"The legal industry is changing. Suddenly, there is real competition for services and a greater choice of providers for business owners, and technology is at the forefront of this change. The legal sector has been slow to embrace technology and we are at the forefront of technological development.

The service is being provided as part of the Forum's Legal Director business support solution.

Several of the documents can be built free of charge. Intermediate-level members of the Forum are eligible for discounts of 10% and Advanced members 20%. For additional peace of mind, business owners can also consult with a lawyer about the documents that are created

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