Choosing your legal advisers when buying a business

By Keith Melling, head of corporate, Napthens Solicitors

Whether you are a serial investor or planning your first acquisition, buying a trading business is a major consideration.

Planning, investigation and execution require the right professional advice and it’s important to find a legal advisor you can trust.  

When choosing your legal team, consider:  

Firstly, do they have the experience? They should demonstrate that they regularly work on corporate transactions and evidence their track record.

Can they present a full service team containing legal specialists in areas such as employment, tax and commercial contracts? Business acquisitions cover many areas of law and often require this expertise.

Do they have the necessary resource? You need your deal to complete within the desired timescale without compromising on quality of service. Can your team pick up during holidays and work through evenings and weekends, if required?

It’s definitely true of lawyers that you get what you pay for.

Are they well versed in handling the key financial elements of the transaction? The price can be driven by complex deferred or earn out mechanisms, completion accounts processes and almost deals will have tax implications. It is critical that your lawyers understand these aspects to negotiate the legal contract.

What do your other advisers say about them? Good lawyers develop a strong reputation based upon working closely with other professionals.

It’s definitely true of lawyers that you get what you pay for. If their charges are significantly lower than others consider why this might be – lower costs may reflect a lack of resources or specialist skills which can cost you more in the long run.