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Staying legally compliant is notoriously easier for larger companies than it is for small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs), especially in a country like South Africa, because of access to legal advice, and the heavy penalties involved with non-compliance.
South African short-term insurer, Santam, aims to alleviate that bias with its new offering, Business Legal insurance, which is directed at young companies with the aim of stimulating job creation as well as economic sustainability and growth.
A healthy small business sector is universally recognised as a key driver of economic success,” says Joseph Makgopa, Head of Corporate Legal Services at Santam. “Small businesses are job creators, sales generators and a significant source of tax revenue. Obviously regulations are vital to a sustainable market economy; but many small businesses need help navigating the risks associated with regulations applicable to each business.
Santam claims that Business Legal insurance cover is designed to be an affordable option for the estimated one to three million formal and informal small businesses in South Africa that employ anywhere from a handful, to up to 250 staff.
In a country like South Africa, with its complicated labour laws, a service like Business Legal insurance could be a godsend, as it covers day-to-day concerns and issues from customer disputes to employee labour disputes.
“An astute business owner with one employee, operating a fairly small business, may seem to have a low legal risk profile. However, the fact that the company has someone in its employ is a potential labour related legal risk which they should be aware of. Any business with employees, however small it may be, must be aware of these risks, especially with the rise in employee-rights activism.”
A second part of the product is Business Legal Review, an online service that helps an SMME assess and understand its legal risks based on specific needs and situations. This “high level” assessment covers the most common legal issues that affect small businesses, but is designed to pre-empt and mitigate risk that could pertain to any issue, including labour disputes under the Consumer Protection Act.
Santam’s Business Legal benefits include:
- Unlimited telephonic access to qualified commercial attorneys 24/7/365
- legal compliance assessment services in order to ascertain the level of compliance or non-compliance with laws as may be applicable to a particular company and in particular the following categories of law: labour law, taxation, consumer protection, competition law, company law etc.
- Legal Services in relation to the drafting or vetting of commercial contracts as may be required in the ordinary course of business such as Confidentiality Agreements, Lease Agreements, Suretyships, Employment Agreements, Sale Agreements, Terms and Conditions of trade, etc
- Legal costs and expenses for defending any prosecutions for non-compliance with the provisions of the Companies Act or any other legislation as may be applicable to an insured company
- Legal costs and expenses in any civil legal actions as may be instituted by or against the insured company
- Legal costs and expenses in any arbitration matters.