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The Legal Environment Business Law • Established by governments (federally, provincially and at the municipal level) to ensure that businesses comply with these governmental standards • Rules, statutes, regulations, rules, as a legal framework for business operations • These policies can include product liability, consumer protection, fair competition, sales,, contracts, etc. Business Law • Some laws that govern business practices: • Hiring and firing practices • Harassment in the workplace (Charter of Rights & Freedoms) and provincial Human Rights legislation • Environmental protection • Consumer protection • Compassionate Care • Employee holidays, overtime, etc. (Employment Equity legislation) Laws originate from 4 sources: • 1. Statutory Law: – Written law enforced by the federal and provincial governments, international treaties, and regulations and by-laws 2. Common Law: – Legal precedents 3. Laws from Administrative Agencies: -- mandated by federal or provincial legislatures to ensure there are rules and regulations in specific areas of business: • Common Law continued: – Enforcement • Federal and provincial institutions and agencies with the power to pass rules and regulations within many areas of responsibility, including: – CRTC – Labour Boards – Zoning The Manitoba Human Rights Commission conducts investigations in cases of suspected violations of the Code. A Commission determines whether the rules and regulations are being upheld. 3. Laws from Administrative Agencies: --mandated by federal or provincial legislatures or municipalities to ensure there are rules and regulations in specific areas of business; --Federal – CRTC --Provincial – Labour Relations Boards --Municipal – Zoning boards, school boards Additional Laws • 3. Tort Law: – A wrongful act causing injury to another person, property or reputation • i) Intentional Tort – willful act resulting in injury • ii) Unintentional Tort – related to NEGLIGENCE, • i.e. McDonald’s case • Iii) Product Liability – holds business liable for harm if from the product, design, sale or use of business products – Doctrine of Strict (Product) Liability-even if company is not aware of any defects, still is held liable. There are no limits of the level of compensation that can be awarded. Intellectual Property Rights • A) Patent – a type of intellectual property that provides inventors exclusive rights for 20 years • B)Copyright – protects a creator’s right to materials such as books, articles, photos and cartoons for the duration of his/her life and plus 50 years after his/her death; – Protected under The Copyright Act Intellectual Property • c)Trademark – legal protection for BOTH the brand name and design, i.e. McDonald’s -- the golden arches – Protected under The Trademark Act d)Industrial Design – produced by an industrial process - protection of the owner’s right to the “visible features” of a finished product Type of Law continued • 4. Contract Law – A legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties – A contract is considered binding if ALL of the following conditions are present: • An offer is made – oral or written • A voluntary acceptance of the offer • Both parties give CONSIDERATION – or something of value, and must be between both parties • Both parties are COMPETENT • Contract must be legal • Contract is in proper form – must be in writing if valued over $200.00 and if the contract is over one year Laws to promote fair and competitive business practices: • Consumer Protection Act – due to the difficulty for consumers to identify defects in products. – Product Performance – Food and Drug Act, Hazardous Products Act, Motor Vehicle Safety Act • Establishes standards • Business Practices – for example, door to door sellers, a consumer can rescind a purchase contract within a specific “cooling off” period. • Miscellaneous Advertising – false or misleading statements about the characteristics of a product, including warranties, guarantees, etc. are all prohibited. • Example – can’t offer a discounted price – without the product available for sale. A Business Corporation • A company or a corporation is a person, separate from it’s owners (shareholders) • Shareholders select a board – governs the overall operations of a business • The Board of Directors – hire the officers and staff • All have legal responsibility to shareholders, but increasingly there is pressure for boards to be accountable to their employees, suppliers, customers, clients, the community and also the public.
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