Shopping for a franchise? These are the legal guidelines and phrases you should not ignore.


  • Shopping for a franchise operation is a fairly protected technique to run your individual enterprise.
  • This doesn’t imply you received’t face a raft of legalese earlier than, and in your approach, to signing an settlement.
  • The Client Safety Act now regulates the connection between franchisees and franchisors – however there are a number of different authorized components to pay attention to when shopping for a franchise retailer.
  • Listed here are the central Acts, phrases, and authorized points to look out for when shopping for a franchise, in keeping with two attorneys.


Working a franchise may seem to be a protected and straightforward technique to generate profits, but it surely’s not at all times plain crusing. You’ll possible need to abide by quite a few phrases and circumstances within the franchise settlement, largely to do with the mental property you’re successfully shopping for from the franchisor. And there are additionally at all times dangers concerned – notably should you don’t do your due diligence or perceive the legalese earlier than signing.

After assembly with the franchisor, passing varied monetary hurdles, and presumably even psychometric assessments and coaching, you’ll possible face pretty complicated authorized paperwork. Understanding what to anticipate on this paperwork – and guaranteeing it’s all correct and consistent with South African laws – is vital to operating a wholesome franchise, say two South African legal professionals with a particular curiosity within the franchise world.

A franchise could also be one of many extra accessible and safer companies to begin. However Hugh Melamdowitz, a companion at Spoor & Fisher South Africa, says “it’s vital that you’ve got the precise information and ask the precise inquiries to keep away from ease and security turning into complication and threat down the street”.

Listed here are a number of the key authorized concerns to remember when shopping for a franchise in South Africa.

Client Safety Act

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) oversees a lot of the connection between the franchisor and franchisee in South Africa, and is especially vital within the early phases of the franchise settlement.

Earlier than the CPA, the South African franchise panorama was largely unregulated. However because the introduction of the CPA, franchisees are seen as customers and “thus get pleasure from the vast majority of the rights and protections afforded to different unusual Shoppers beneath the Act”, says Khotso Mmatli, practising lawyer and director at SKM Attorneys.

“The affect of the CPA could be present in each aspect of the franchise settlement,” says Mmatli.

One of many important components Mmatli says to look out for in a franchise settlement is the franchisor’s obligation to offer a ‘Disclosure Doc’ at the least 14 days earlier than the events enter into the settlement and earlier than accepting any monies from the possible franchisee.

“The aim of the disclosure doc is to offer the franchisee with info pertaining to the franchisor’s enterprise practices, often within the type of a franchisor’s Operations Handbook, and monetary place (resembling annual turnover and future gross sales projections) in order to permit the franchisee to conduct an intensive due diligence earlier than coming into into the settlement,” Mmatli says.

Mmatli additionally says it’s “vital to notice that the events to the franchise settlement can not conform to waive any of the rights or obligations created beneath the CPA”.

The CPA additionally permits for some escape from the franchise inside an affordable interval – and it’s important to search for point out of this “cooling off interval” within the franchise paperwork, says Melamdowitz.

Mental property

The franchisor additionally has a proper to guard its mental property.

“In mild of the obligatory disclosures mandated by the CPA, it turns into essential for the franchisor to guard its mental property (IP),” says Mmatli. “That is very true contemplating that disclosed paperwork such because the franchisor’s operations guide would include delicate details about the franchisor’s know-how, processes and strategies.”

As such, Mmatli says it’s best to count on the franchisor to request you signal a confidentiality settlement “to guard not solely its personal reliable business pursuits, but in addition these of different franchisees inside its enterprise”.

In some ways, this trade of mental property is central to the franchise mannequin – and it usually consists of three components within the type of copyrights, emblems, and “know-how” says Melamdowitz.


A franchise settlement ought to clarify that the copyright, which generally lives within the operations guide, stays with the franchisor and that any copying of it, aside from that specified as permitted for operating the enterprise, could be an infringement of copyright, Melamdowitz says.


The know-how consists of what Melamdowitz calls “a enterprise’ commerce secrets and techniques”. It’s within the know-how part that you simply’ll be taught exactly methods to run the enterprise you’re shopping for.

“In my view, this growth of know-how ought to be inspired, to drive job creation and enterprise evolution,” says Melamdowitz.

A person worker is often not, nevertheless, entitled “to take away any documentation containing know-how, confidential info, or commerce secrets and techniques, together with buyer lists and provider lists”.

With these secrets and techniques, it could in idea be potential for franchisees to duplicate the franchisor’s enterprise. Because of this, it’s additionally potential that clauses on this part could prohibit franchisees from contacting suppliers instantly. Contravening these clauses, even innocently, could trigger authorized points between you and the franchise proprietor.

Franchisors often management this know-how via a confidentiality settlement, which is able to possible stipulate all confidential info, together with funds, business, and technical particulars that allow the enterprise to run.


Logos are a central aspect of any franchise. Logos often embody the commerce title, brand, symbols, slogans and different advertising components {that a} franchisor makes use of to determine the enterprise. The franchisor will often embody all protected emblems within the franchise settlement or stipulate them in a separate attachment.

“It’s the trademark that underpins all franchise companies, as a result of it’s the commerce mark that the general public is conscious of and that pulls clients,” says Melamdowitz.

Franchisors should have detailed information of their emblems – and franchisees might want to be sure that they respect them and abide by the authorized necessities specified by the settlement. For instance, a franchise settlement could point out the place, when, and the way franchisees can use emblems like logos and slogans, and if they are often altered in any approach. Departure from clauses to this impact could lead to motion from the franchisor.

Based on each Melamdowitz and Mmatli, these are probably the most important authorized parts of any franchise settlement – and though shopping for a franchise from a good franchisor may usually be a protected enterprise wager, it’s important to rigorously learn any franchise settlement earlier than you signal.

Melamdowitz additionally urges potential franchisees to verify for any court docket judgments in opposition to the corporate, consider credit score information, and “rigorously research the disclosure paperwork and monetary statements to verify on monetary well being and forecasted profitability”.

Franchises aren’t low-cost, nevertheless, nor are they essentially failsafe. When unsure, each legal professionals say it’s sensible to seek the advice of with a authorized skilled who can consider an settlement, advise you of your rights as a franchisee, and guarantee the whole lot is above board earlier than signing up and handing over franchise charges.

Supply: Enterprise Insider South Africa –