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

Photograph: Cytonn Images on Unsplash


  • Shopping for a franchise operation is a fairly secure option to run your personal enterprise.
  • This doesn’t imply you gained’t face a raft of legalese earlier than, and in your means, to signing an settlement.
  • The Shopper Safety Act now regulates the connection between franchisees and franchisors – however there are a number of different authorized elements to concentrate on when shopping for a franchise retailer.
  • Listed below 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 secure and simple option to earn a living, but it surely’s not all the time plain crusing. You’ll doubtless must 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 all the time dangers concerned – significantly for those who don’t do your due diligence or perceive the legalese earlier than signing.

After assembly with the franchisor, passing numerous monetary hurdles, and presumably even psychometric exams and coaching, you’ll doubtless face pretty advanced authorized paperwork. Understanding what to anticipate on this paperwork – and making certain it’s all correct and consistent with South African laws – is essential to working a wholesome franchise, say two South African attorneys 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 associate at Spoor & Fisher South Africa, says “it’s essential that you’ve the suitable data and ask the suitable inquiries to keep away from ease and security turning into complication and threat down the highway”.

Listed below are a few of the key authorized concerns to bear in mind when shopping for a franchise in South Africa.

Shopper Safety Act

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) oversees a lot of the connection between the franchisor and franchisee in South Africa, and is especially essential within the early levels 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 take pleasure in the vast majority of the rights and protections afforded to different odd Customers below the Act”, says Khotso Mmatli, practising legal professional and director at SKM Attorneys.

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

One of many crucial elements Mmatli says to look out for in a franchise settlement is the franchisor’s obligation to offer a ‘Disclosure Doc’ a minimum of 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, normally within the type of a franchisor’s Operations Handbook, and monetary place (equivalent to annual turnover and future gross sales projections) in order to permit the franchisee to conduct a radical due diligence earlier than coming into into the settlement,” Mmatli says.

Mmatli additionally says it’s “essential to notice that the events to the franchise settlement can not comply with waive any of the rights or obligations created below 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 gentle 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 handbook would comprise delicate details about the franchisor’s know-how, processes and methods.”

As such, Mmatli says it is best to anticipate the franchisor to request you signal a confidentiality settlement “to guard not solely its personal authentic industrial pursuits, but additionally 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 parts within the type of copyrights, commerce marks, and “know-how” says Melamdowitz.


A franchise settlement ought to clarify that the copyright, which usually lives within the operations handbook, stays with the franchisor and that any copying of it, aside from that specified as permitted for working the enterprise, can 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 just’ll study exactly how one can run the enterprise you’re shopping for.

“For my part, this growth of know-how needs to be inspired, to drive job creation and enterprise evolution,” says Melamdowitz.

A person worker is often not, nonetheless, 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 principle be doable for franchisees to duplicate the franchisor’s enterprise. For that reason, it’s additionally doable that clauses on this part might prohibit franchisees from contacting suppliers instantly. Contravening these clauses, even innocently, might trigger authorized points between you and the franchise proprietor.

Franchisors normally management this know-how by a confidentiality settlement, which is able to doubtless stipulate all confidential info, together with funds, industrial, and technical particulars that allow the enterprise to run.

Commerce marks

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

“It’s the commerce mark 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 data of their commerce marks – and franchisees might want to make sure that they respect them and abide by the authorized necessities specified by the settlement. For instance, a franchise settlement might point out the place, when, and the way franchisees can use commerce marks like logos and slogans, and if they are often altered in any means. Departure from clauses to this impact might lead to motion from the franchisor.

In accordance with each Melamdowitz and Mmatli, these are probably the most crucial authorized parts of any franchise settlement – and though shopping for a franchise from a good franchisor may typically be a secure enterprise guess, it’s important to fastidiously learn any franchise settlement earlier than you signal.

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

Franchises aren’t low cost, nonetheless, nor are they essentially failsafe. When doubtful, each attorneys say it’s clever to seek the advice of with a authorized skilled who can consider an settlement, advise you of your rights as a franchisee, and guarantee all the pieces is above board earlier than signing up and handing over franchise charges.

Supply: Enterprise Insider South Africa –