Don’t be evil. A few of us know what these three words are famous for. It is the motto of Google. Yes, this is the clear message that is delivered to all its employees and customers. Having seen the misuse of status employed by many enterprises, Google developer Paul Buccheit came up with this to be used as the motto of the company. For every start-up, this must be certainly kept in mind. Though, there are many things involved in the following of this motto, but being lawful is the most important factor. It is the easiest way of establishing your intentions of creating a beneficial environment for customers. And yet, this is overlooked by many enterprises in their quest to maximise profits.

Coming from a world wherein all kinds of interactions, from the subatomic to that of gigantic proportions, fall under the ambit of a handful of governing physical laws, it may seem only natural for us to have an established framework to govern all aspects of our social and economic interactions as well. Tough this framework might not be enforceable by a court of law in its entirety; we all may be familiar of it in some form of codes of conduct. But our sole focus will be laws relating to businesses.

Why Learn it?

Knowing the law is both beneficial in terms of gaining as well as saving. You can’t know where you can assert rights if you do not from the beginning that you’ve been carrying out a legal action. Further, if a contractual obligation is being incurred in any way, all the clauses of the contract, if not understood, it can lead to grave hazards in terms of business profits and goodwill. More than profits, what is affected by not knowing the law is the goodwill of the firm. As the name suggests, it is the reputation of the firm in monetary terms that determines everything, from sales to credit worthiness. Further, with the coming up of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility, every firm needs to not only know the law, but also think of ways to amend it to benefit both itself and the society, with special emphasis on the society. Many a companies have tried to ignore this growing aspect in business culture, and have fallen to their knees, only being able to bow down to its competitors with better sense of the environment, business and social.

What’s more important than knowing the laws that you can enforce is knowing the law that can be enforced against you. I’ll like to quote a recent incident. A few days ago, I was visiting a local fast food joint I was served with food of unacceptable quality. Thoroughly disappointed on facing the prospect of having to leave without satisfying my hunger, I decided to ask for a refund of my money which was paid at the time of placing the order, as is standard practice with the majority of fast food and take-away joints. It was the simple fact that I am aware that gave me the confidence of standing up and asking for what is rightfully mine. The fact remains that for businesses having a no return policy on goods once sold, even if already clearly stated, is in contravention of Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act. In fact, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs had made its stand clear in this regard in 2001 in a letter issued by then union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Shanta Kumar, to all state government.

Laws of contracts

Sustainability can only come with the keeping in mind the needs of the customer. Though, customers’ needs change, but one thing the customers are always looking for is a reliable brand name. We know that most of will buy Tata Salt over any other brand (of course, with exceptions). Similarly, by first knowing (and later conforming) to the laws that are prevailing in the area will not only help establish your brand name but also make sure there is sufficient quality to back that recognition with substance. Before entering into any sort of business venture, it is of utmost importance to understand the Laws of Contracts and Sales of Goods. Since all businesses continually or periodically enter into contracts to gain profits, it is very important to understand every aspect of the same. Being taught in nearly every college for commerce now-a-days, it’s upon us to be at par with them before entering into the field. Knowing the rights of the customers can’t be emphasized in words. The main thing to keep in mind is that no law is less important than the other, because if any law affects your business, it can harm your profits, business, and your ‘society’ too. A law may be used more prominently than another, but even if that one law is used to govern 1 out of a 100 activities, it pays to be aware of it.

We live in a world wherein the more advanced or developed a society becomes, the more the complexity of its interactions increases. This leads to an increasing number of laws catering to the entire spectrum of those interactions, including trade laws, criminal laws, civil laws, labour laws, mercantile laws, consumer protection laws, etc. One may or may not acknowledge the influence that these laws have on his behaviour as an individual, or on that of society as a whole. But one’s belief that negligence in gaining familiarity with law can be compensated by following the behavioural protocol founded in one’s moral and emotional ideologies can be labelled as nothing less than blatant ignorance by an uninitiated mind. It is not just for one’s personal benefit that it becomes essential to be accustomed to standard legal practices; it is for collective social advancement and development. For unless we are aware, we cannot think, reason, challenge or improve the existing framework, parts of which have turned nothing short of archaic.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.