Legal Concerns For Small And Medium Enterprises In Nigeria


By Lawrence Ezeali

  1. Compliance With The Regulatory Laws On Registration

All business enterprises in Nigeria requires registration. However, it is the size and nature of the business that determines what type of registration that would be appropriate. An entrepreneur should first determine whether he wants to register a company or business name or even a partnership, all of these is regulated by the Corporate Affairs commission.

  1. Tax

 Upon registration, the income of the company is subject to be taxed. It would amount to a breach of the law if a company fails to adhere to relevant regulations especially with tax and its compliance. It is therefore important for an entrepreneur to have a tax plan before starting up a business. Although there’s a body of appeal commissioners and Value Added Tax Tribunals that resolve tax issues, an entrepreneur should have a plan so as to avoid these tribunals as well as comply with his tax obligations.

  1. Returns To The Corporate Affairs Commission

Under the extant laws, there are various provisions that require a registered company, business name or a partnership to file certain returns to the corporate Affairs Commission. This ranges from the annual return, keeping of the book of account etc. Failure to file any of these returns When required may portend some legal implications to the entrepreneur.

  1. Employment And Employee Relations

An entrepreneur should also concern himself with the nature of employment to be offered to the employees. These varies from a master servant relationship to employment that enjoys statutory flavours. The nature of employment chosen by the entrepreneur determines the manner of termination of the employees. In order to avoid litigation after the termination of the employment, an entrepreneur must concern himself with the nature of employment to be offered the employee. This can also be done by spelling out the terms of the employment which must be resorted back to in event of the need to lay off workers. You should also concern yourself to weather you want an independent contractor or you want an employee. It is a major concern because this will determine your liability, vicariously, when he commits a tort.

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  1. Resolution Of Dispute

It is common place for dispute to arise in the course of transactions. Now, you want to determine how every dispute is resolved. In respect of disputes between the employees and the entrepreneur, you may want to have all dispute resolved through arbitration before any court action and this can be included in the employment manual to be handed over to the employees. Same goes for the dispute arising between the partners, if it is a partnership.

  1. Trademark and copyright

It is important for an entrepreneur to take the necessary steps to protect their idea, words, names etc under the law. This must be done in time to avoid others securing these ideas. This is important because when it is registered, it gives the person who registered it an exclusive use of the said idea. Likewise, an entrepreneur should do due diligence before using any idea or word which has been secured by another to avoid lengthy claims in court.

  1. Need For Insurance

although this may seem expensive for a startup business, it is important that an entrepreneur insures his business and its practice so as to avoid the minor pitfalls associated with uninsured businesses. This is also important for someone who wants to avoid litigation. Issues relating to damages arising from wrongs committed against third parties may be remedied if the entrepreneur insures because this will be taken care of by the insurance company.

  1. Obtaining Neccesary Permits

There are some permits required before a business would be carried out. This can only be determined by the field of work chosen by the entrepreneur. Some of these permits are required before the business kick-starts. It is also important to obtain neccesary permits if there is going to be a foreigner that will be involved in the running of the business. This is to avoid legal consequences for failure to obtain these permits.

  1. Drafting Of Pre Contract Agreement
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where there are going to be more than one entrepreneur, it is important that certain necessary pre contract agreement is drafted which will regulate the relationship that will exist between the entrepreneurs. Some of these contracts includes, Joint venture agreement, shareholders agreements etc. These agreements prevent unnecessary disputes which may arise during the course of the business and of course, these disputes may slow down the business.


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