AdobeStock_278805688-300x200Term sheets are, by design, made to be simple. They are supposed to give a general overview of a proposed investment in very broad terms. Despite this, a term sheet can contain provisions that could create complications for your business in the future. An experienced investment lawyer can help you fully understand the implications of all term sheet provisions in order to protect your business from future problems.

Investment Amount

The amount to be invested is usually the most important provision of a term sheet. Many investors, especially new investors, get distracted by the overall amount of the proposed investment, which can distract an entrepreneur from other important investment terms. The investment could be contingent on the business being valued above a set amount. It could come in installments. The installments could also be contingent on the business meeting certain goals by certain dates. Business owners must thoroughly understand the terms of any such contingencies and how they could impair the company’s ability to secure the full amount of the proposed investment.

AdobeStock_224157473-300x200Convertible notes are a popular method used by startup companies to raise capital for a new business. There are, however, different types of convertible notes, and it is important for new business owners to understand the pros and cons of each. It is also critical that business owners understand the long-term consequences of convertible notes on their future business operations and financing.

Maturity Date

SAFE (a Simple Agreement for Future Equity) is a convertible note in which an investor converts his or her investment into equity in the company. With a SAFE agreement, the investment converts to equity at any future equity financing. There is no maturity date. Thus, the investor could convert the debt to equity the very next day if an applicable equity financing is completed. KISS is a different type of convertible equity that may or may not have a maturity date.

AdobeStock_312736469-300x200There are many ways to capitalize a new business. Angel financing, venture capital, and private equity are popular methods of raising capital, but it is important for business owners to understand the difference. These different methods are appropriate at different stages of your business life cycle. Successful entrepreneurs know when and how to use them effectively. 

Stages of the Business Life Cycle

Before a business starts any operations or has a single customer, it will need startup capital. It is at this beginning when angel financing (or “seed investors”) comes in. These initial investments of “seed money” allow entrepreneurs to take their initial idea and turn it into reality. The earliest phase of the business cycle, however, is also the riskiest. There is a high chance that angel financiers will lose their entire investment. But angel financing typically has the highest returns on investment to compensate for this risk.

AdobeStock_392233450-300x200Cryptocurrency has become a critical issue for many California business owners. These new forms of currency can be convenient, but they can also create legal obligations for the businesses that use them. It is important for all business owners to understand the legal implications of cryptocurrency offerings before engaging in any transactions. Some cryptocurrency transactions can fall under the SEC requirements, and business owners can face liability for failing to register their offerings or meeting other legal requirements.

Security Versus Utility

Cryptocurrency can be either a security or a utility, depending on how it is being used. A security is a fungible and negotiable financial instrument with some type of monetary value. When discussing securities, many investors immediately consider stock certificates. This is a classic example of a traditional security. They are not, however, the only item that can be used as a security. Cryptocurrency can also be used as a fungible, negotiable financial instrument, and often these instruments hold significant monetary value.

AdobeStock_257476584-300x200Litigation is a costly enterprise for any business owner. It is important to work with an experienced business litigator who knows how to mitigate litigation expenses wherever possible. New statutes – such as the one that creates informal discovery conferences – can be used to help resolve discovery disputes and mitigate the over cost of business litigation.

What is an Informal Discovery Conference?

Recently, the California Code of Civil Procedure was amended to allow civil litigants to request an informal discovery conference. While the discovery process is governed by clear rules and procedures, the parties are often expected to resolve differences amongst themselves. If they cannot, they must let the court decide their differences. This is traditionally done by discovery motions. If, for example, one party refused to procedure a document requested by the other, the requesting party could file a motion to compel with the court. The attorneys would then prepare written motions to the court, make arguments at the hearing, and wait for the judge’s ruling. All of this results in added attorney’s’ fees.

AdobeStock_377846636-300x225Shareholders have important legal rights under California law. These rights protect a shareholder’s ability to make informed financial decisions about their ownership rights in a company. If you do not understand these legal rights, a company can try to get around them and benefit itself at the expense of its own shareholders. The experienced shareholders’ rights attorneys at Structure Law Group can help you protect your legal rights in order to shield your financial interests. Learn more about your shareholder rights – and the limitations placed on these rights.

Statutes

The California Corporations Code provides shareholders with the specific legal right to inspect corporate documents. The statute allows for the inspection of the accounting books, records, and minutes of proceedings of the shareholders and the board and committees of the board (or a true and accurate copy if the original has been lost, destroyed, or is not normally physically located within the State of California). This inspection can be made with a written demand on the corporation by any shareholder (or holder of a voting trust certificate) at any reasonable time during usual business hours. The statute requires that the demand be made for a purpose reasonably related to the holder’s interests as a shareholder.

AdobeStock_280928050-300x200As with every new year, 2021 has brought changes to the law that can affect your business. California business owners must stay up to date on the legal changes that can affect their liabilities. The experienced business attorneys at Structure Law Group are here to help you understand all potential liabilities your business could face and develop an effective strategy for mitigating these risks.

New Code of Civil Procedure Statutes Enacted For 2021

The Code of Civil Procedure has been amended to include three new specific sections related to the discovery process. Section 2031.280(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure is amended so that parties responding to an inspection demand may no longer produce documents “as they are kept in the usual course of business.”  Instead, when produced, the documents “shall be identified with the specific request number to which the documents respond.” This can add extensive administrative labor to reorganize documents and produce them as requested.

AdobeStock_288866301-300x200When real estate is transferred in California, it generally constitutes a change in ownership that triggers a reassessment of the taxable value of that property. There are, however, a few key exclusions that can be used to avoid this trigger and protect your business from added tax liability. If you are considering transferring any property to or from your business, be sure to consult with an attorney about the best way to do this. The investment of attorney’s fees can pay dividends in reduced legal and tax liabilities. Errors, however, can lead to costly reassessments, in addition to tax penalties and interest on the added amount due.

Protecting Property Through the Creation of a Business Entity

There are a few different ways to transfer property to a business entity without triggering a reassessment. One is the legal entity exclusion. This rule allows you to avoid a reassessment if 50 percent or less of the interest in a legal entity is transferred to another legal entity. So if real property is held by a legal entity, up to half of the interest in that legal entity can be transferred without triggering a reassessment. If 51 percent or more of the legal interest is transferred, there will be a reassessment. The strategy is often used by business owners who are creating a new legal entity without changing the ownership of their business.

AdobeStock_332552950-300x200When a company suffers financial harm due to mismanagement by a corporate officer or a board member, it is the shareholders that usually suffer the consequences. The law allows shareholders to sue for their losses when a company cannot or will not sue the officers that caused it. These are known as “derivative” suits because the shareholder’s cause of action actually derives from the company’s losses. The corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group can help you understand and enforce these rights in order to protect your financial interests as a shareholder. If you believe that funds have been mismanaged, we can help you investigate the claim and plan the legal strategy that best protects your rights. Our experienced litigators can also protect your rights in court.

Suing For Money Mismanagement on Behalf of All Investors of a Fund

When a corporate officer or member of the board engages in mismanagement, the financial consequences often affect all shareholders. Shareholders in this situation will often consolidate their claims into a single case. This saves on both legal expenses and the time it takes to get the case onto a court docket. A single plaintiff will be named to represent the entire “class” of plaintiffs, which in this case is the other shareholders who suffered the same loss. Because the shareholders are actually pursuing the company’s claim, proceeds from the lawsuit can actually go to the company. This is why many shareholder derivative suits seek remedies other than compensation. The shareholders might sue for better accounting practices, or the removal of a board member who engaged in fraudulent transitions, or some other specific relief that will prevent similar losses in the future.

AdobeStock_343368495-300x200The coronavirus has created many new legal issues with unclear answers. Courts across the country will spend months – and likely years – sorting through a backlog of civil cases involving legal questions about the financial losses created by COVID-19. While it is not possible to predict the outcome in every case, there is some guidance from prior case law that can help business owners effectively plan to mitigate their liability. The experienced business lawyers at Structure Law Group can help develop a mitigation strategy that is tailored to your business. Learn more about the history of breach of contract case law – and how it can help you make informed decisions about your company’s contracts in the era of coronavirus.

Is COVID-19 a Valid Excuse to Breach a Contract?

Case law involving breach of contract goes back hundreds of years. Many different reasons for breach have been explored by the courts, but, of course, they have never before faced COVID-19. This is a new global phenomenon that has created unique challenges for business owners all over the world. To predict how courts will treat breach of contract related to COVID-19, one must examine the reasons they have excused breach in the past – or not excused it, imposing liability on the breaching party.