Your biggest legal considerations when building a business in Ireland

You've probably heard it before: everyone says opening a business in Ireland is a great choice. We've got a super-friendly business tax rate, a big entrepreneur community and loads of untapped potential for growth. But running a business isn't all 'easy', or we'd all be doing it! The legal side of things is important to keep in mind. It makes sure your business is compliant and not taking risks with business basics like safety.

Business Structure and Employment Laws

Picking the right business structure is basically step one. Whether you choose to be a sole trader, partnership, or limited company can define the kind of work you want to do and how you pay taxes. For that reason, it's important to understand what type of business you're setting up and you'll also need to know in order to register your business with Ireland’s Companies Registration Office (CRO).

Entrepreneurs should have a working knowledge of Irish employment law and regulations, especially when hiring employees. Anything from minimum wage requirements, working hour regulations, employee rights, and health and safety standards create a compliant and supportive work environment for your staff. It's not just better for them - follow these rules and you'll be able to operate safe in the knowledge that your business won't get into any trouble in that regard.

Health and Safety Compliance

Prioritising the health and safety of your employees and customers is just as important as how you hire and pay them. You can easily look up Irish health and safety regulations, including information on how to conduct risk assessments and how to make business premises safer. Our laws are similar to many developed European countries and that means businesses are bound to meet a high standard of safety.

Some businesses have more risks than others. Construction-based services or premises with active machinery will have a higher chance of experiencing accidents and it's important for businesses to firstly do their utmost to prevent such accidents but also to understand the impact in the sad event that they occur. For example, any injured parties may suffer psychological as well as physical injuries from a serious accident and you should have measures in place to account for this. There are details available online about the potential causes and what could happen if someone were to file PTSD compensation claims. The compensation amount could be several thousand euros, putting it on a level with the compensation often due for successful injury claims. The intention isn't to scare you off but rather to show that being aware of these risks in advance and putting in place the right safety measures to avoid them might allow you to grow your business with a lot more confidence.

Commercial Contracts, Agreements & Taxes

You're likely to enter into contracts and agreements with suppliers, clients, and other business entities, at some stage in your journey. You need a lawyer to help review these, at a minimum. Contracts that aren't legally sound can end up creating disputes or complications down the line.

On an employee level, you should look into your corporate tax obligations, VAT requirements, and other relevant financial compliance, but accountants can help with this, too. Many new businesses hire one on retainer for this.

Data Privacy, GDPR & Intellectual Property Protection

Your intellectual property, that means trademarks, patents, and copyrights, might be really essential to protecting what makes your business unique. Registering and enforcing your intellectual property rights stops other businesses essentially copying your services or products, and taking potential revenue away from you.

Loads of business operations are also becoming digital, including running some tax processes via software. A big one to remember is data protection and privacy laws if you’re using customer information for marketing, for example. Familiarise yourself with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements and make sure you're not using data in a careless way. Google some of the cases of GDPR breaches and fines if you need inspiration on why it's worth doing too!

As you can see, it's not impossible to start a successful Irish business. You just need to build a solid foundation of compliance and processes - and that starts with your own commitment to learning. After that, whether you end up needing legal advice or you're at a loss with GDPR, there's plenty of help out there to make your Irish venture a success