You’re considering buying a franchise, and you’ve been advised to hire a franchise lawyer before moving forward. The problem is that you're not sure whether hiring legal services is worth the investment.
Prospective franchisees can contact a franchise law attorney for many reasons. However, the main reason to hire a franchise law attorney is to protect your legal rights and business interests.
Who are Franchise Law Attorneys?
A franchise law attorney is a legal professional specializing in franchising. In other words, these types of lawyers focus on franchise law and the regulation of franchise businesses. Franchise attorneys represent both franchisors and prospective buyers.
It's imperative to consult a lawyer specializing in your specific need because they can relate to your situation better than a general legal practitioner. A franchise law attorney is best placed to handle franchise legal issues.
Franchising Law Defined
Franchising law is the constitution of franchises. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Franchise Regulation Rule. This law addresses all legal aspects of franchises, including:
- Franchisor-franchisee relationships;
- Purchase and sale of a franchise;
- Rights and obligations of the transacting parties—the franchisor and franchisee;
- Dispute resolution mechanisms;
- Breach of contract, and more.
Under franchise law, franchise businesses are required to make full disclosures on all issues related to their businesses. Prospective buyers' decisions are based on the information provided by franchisors.
Franchise disclosures are typically contained in a Franchise Disclosure Document—FDD. The implementation of the Federal Franchise Rule can vary by state.
The U.S. states are categorized as franchise registration filing or non-registration states. However, compliance with the Federal Franchise Rule is mandatory for all states.
The majority of states have more laws to complement the Federal Franchise Rule. Potential franchisees and franchisors must understand both federal and state franchise regulations to avoid adverse legal consequences.
What Can a Franchise Lawyer Do for You?
Here's how a franchise law attorney can help potential franchise buyers and franchisors:
The success of a franchise business depends on many factors, including legal advice. Skilled and experienced franchise law attorneys may not know everything about franchising. However, they understand many issues related to franchising, thanks to their training and years of practice.
Franchise law attorneys can offer legal counsel on a wide range of issues, including:
- How to recruit or onboard the right franchisee;
- The qualities of successful franchisees;
- Identifying red flags in the franchisor's documents, particularly in the FDD and franchise contract;
- Legal compliance;
- Dispute resolution, and others.
A franchise law attorney's insights can prove invaluable to both the franchisor and franchisee. However, a franchisee stands to benefit more from a franchise law attorney.
As a franchisee, you'll likely invest significant amounts in the franchise business, so your investment will be on the line in case the deal goes wrong. That said, prospective buyers must approach franchising deals cautiously to protect their business interests and rights.
Reviewing the FDD and Franchise Agreements
The Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and franchise agreements are legal documents that can be intimidating to the untrained eye. Unfortunately, franchise businesses can't operate or start without the two documents.
The Federal Trade Commission and state regulators require the publication of FDDs for a reason. Firstly, the franchise agreement governs the rights and obligations of both parties.
Secondly, the two documents provide practical solutions for potential risks like disputes, breach of contract, non-compliance, and more. Consequently, both parties must have standby legal representation to protect their interests.
Advising Franchise Businesses about Potential Risks
Franchising is an ingenious way to grow your concept that can be highly rewarding. Risk and operating a business are tied at the hip.
Research shows that franchising is not as risky as other types of business. Also, the success rate of franchise businesses is much higher than other businesses.
The above qualities make franchising popular among potential investors. Mitigating potential franchise risks helps both franchise business owners and potential buyers prepare for adverse eventualities or mishappenings.
Franchise law attorneys understand numerous pitfalls related to franchise businesses. That said, they can offer legal counsel on different issues and help you avoid potential challenges.
Negotiating Franchise Agreements
All franchise agreements are not the same, meaning the terms and conditions of a franchise contract can differ between franchises. While franchise relationships are mutual, some franchisors impose stringent conditions to gain an unfair advantage.
Since franchisors have more leverage, potential buyers should hire a franchise law attorney to help them negotiate unreasonable terms and conditions of their contracts. An unfavorable franchise contract can present numerous challenges down the road and it's not worth it.
Franchise lawyers help prospective buyers and franchisors make informed decisions. Besides the duties of a franchise law attorney discussed in this article, there are many more. Consult a franchise attorney today if you're considering franchising for the best outcome.