The following are general areas of South Carolina and federal law, the potential applicability of which each business in South Carolina will want to consider.
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You should identify relevant Environmental laws that may trigger liabilities for your particular business, as this is a growing area of liability that almost every business should be aware of, especially businesses that buy, sell, or own real property. Environmental permitting requirements and other federal and state laws, can subject businesses to liability for pollution they were not even aware of. Business owners or managers may be found personally liable for polluting activity which happens under their watch or control.
You should be aware of any worker safety laws that may apply to your business. Because workplace accidents can be a major expense, make sure you comply with applicable OHSHA, or state agency, standards to protect yourself from action by those agencies. South Carolina has a state agency that enforces OHSHA standards. Most of the South Carolina standards are identical to the federal standards. Coverage of the Act extends to all employers. The employer has a general duty to provide a place of employment free from dangerous conditions.
You should identify relevant securities laws that may apply to your capital raising efforts. Issuing or selling securities (including promissory notes, shares of stock, and possibly membership rights) may trigger certain stringent disclosure and anti-fraud provisions. Certain types of capital raising efforts may be exempt from the disclosure, but not the anti-fraud provisions of securities laws. Examples include offerings to state residents only, private offerings, and notes given to banks in exchange for loans. However, many exemptions are extremely easy to violate, thus subjecting your capital raising efforts to securities laws. Any time you are raising capital you should make sure to consult with competent legal counsel experienced in securities matters.
If your business extends credit or is in the business of credit collection, you should be aware of the Consumer Protection Code. This Act regulates the amount or interest and fees that can be charged, disclosures that must be made when extending credit, and certain practices that cannot be engaged in. State registration for the imposition of certain interest rates may also apply. Other federal and state acts for such things as advertising also apply, as may be enforced either by the Federal Trade Commission, state attorney general’s office, or the state office of consumer affairs.
You should be aware of any advertising laws that may affect your business marketing activities. Generally, restrictions on things such as signs or billboards will be found in your county zoning ordinance. Other more specific restrictions on things such as liquor or cigarette advertising or warranties made may be part of federal or state law, as may be enforced either by the Federal Trade Commission, state attorney general’s office, or the state office of consumer affairs
If your business manufactures, distributes, or sells products, you may want to make yourself aware product liabilities laws. Manufacturers, resellers, or others in the chain of distribution of products can be held strictly liable for certain products they release into the stream of commerce. You might consider obtaining products liability insurance. For this purpose, an experienced insurance agent should be consulted
Nearly every business should be aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act affects businesses by regulating the hiring and employment of disabled persons and setting public access standards for certain businesses.
If you receive financial data directly from your customers or clients, you should familiarize yourself with the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.” The Act includes provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions, which include not only banks, securities firms, and insurance companies, but also companies providing many other types of financial products and services to consumers. Among these services are lending, brokering or servicing any type of consumer loan, transferring or safeguarding money, preparing individual tax returns, providing financial advice or credit counseling, providing residential real estate settlement services, collecting consumer debts and an array of other activities.
If your business sells “business opportunities,” it is subject to the South Carolina Business Opportunities Sales Act.
For the purposes of the Act, a “business opportunity” means the sale or lease of products, equipment, supplies, or services which are sold to the purchaser for the purpose of starting a business, for which the purchaser is required to pay the seller more than $250.00, and in which the seller represents: (1) that he will provide locations or assist the purchaser in finding locations for the use or operation of vending machines, racks, display cases or other similar devices, or currency-operated amusement machines or devices, on premises neither owned nor leased by the purchaser or seller; or (2) that he will purchase any or all products made, produced, fabricated, grown, bred, or modified by the purchaser using in whole or in part, the supplies, services, or chattels sold to the purchaser; or (3) that he guarantees that the purchaser will derive income from the business opportunity which exceeds the price paid for the business opportunity; or that he will refund all or part of the price paid for the business opportunity, or repurchase any of the products, equipment, supplies, or chattels supplied by the seller, if the purchaser is unsatisfied with the business opportunity; or (4) the seller will provide a sales program or marketing program which will enable the purchaser to derive income from the business opportunity which exceeds the price paid for the business opportunity; provided, that this subsection does not apply to the sale or a marketing program made in conjunction with the licensing of a registered trademark or service mark.
Sellers of business opportunities are subject to certain disclosure, bond, and registration requirements.
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This checklist (in whole or part) is not an exhaustive list of legal issues applicable to any business. Its purpose is strictly educational. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice, or a substitute for legal advice, and should not be relied on without consulting a licensed attorney competent in business matters. The federal, state, and local laws and regulations on which this information was originally created are subject to change without notice. No warranty, whether express or implied, is made as to the frequency or timeliness of any corrections or updates to the information provided herein.
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