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Part 2: Starting A Partnership

This week we continue our series on starting a business in Jamaica by examining PARTNERSHIPS. A partnership is two or more persons carrying on a business in common with a view to profit. When choosing partners, ensure that they are persons who are trustworthy and will act in the best interest of his/ her fellow partner(s).

The Partnership agreement:

The signing of a partnership agreement is crucial as it will provide guidelines for the firm. This agreement should clearly identify partners’ rights, duties and responsibilities and address matters such as retirement and succession policies. In this agreement, partners should indicate the type of partnership.

Types of partners include:

  1. General partners – these are most common,
  2. Salary partners – they have no share in the firm as an equity partner but is still held out as a partner and so can still be liable.
  3. Dormant or sleeping partners – takes no active part in the management of the business
  4. Corporate partners – a registered company can be a partner once there is nothing in express or implied terms that preclude membership.

To register a partnership, you must submit The Business Registration Form (BRF 1) to the Companies Office of Jamaica and the registration fee is $2,500 for 2 to 5 partners and $5,000 for 6 to 20 partners.

Advantages of a partnership over a company:

  1. Absence of formalities- the formation and dissolution of a partnership is simpler.
  2. Lower cost for registration and privacy of financial matters
  3. No requirement to file annual returns

Disadvantages of a partnership over a company:

  1. The major disadvantage is that there is no separate legal entity that can be sued and held liable for the debts and losses of the partners.
  2. As with a sole trader, partners are personally liable, to their last dollar, jointly and severely, for all partnership debts, losses, & damage arising from a wrongful act or omission of any partner acting in the ordinary course of the business of the firm.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

Starting A Business: Sole Trader and Registration of Business Name

According to the World Bank Doing Business Report for 2018, Jamaica is ranked number 5 in the World for ease of starting a business. The Companies Office of Jamaica should be commended for continuously improving its procedure.  Over the next few weeks we will examine the various legal structures and factors influencing Entrepreneurs’ choice of registration.

Registering a business as a sole trader is the easiest form of registration in Jamaica. The Registration of Business Act stipulated in section 3(1) that this registration is for any individual or firm buying or selling goods from an established address or any individual or firm offering services from an established address in a name other than its/their own, for example: Joan Pitters offering services in her name need not be registered. However, Joan Pitters operating as Joan’s Meat or Joan Pitters & Associates must be registered. A business name will not be registered if it is identical or too close to the name of an existing trader, individual or firm registered under the Business Names or Companies Act 2004.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of registering a sole trader.

Advantages:

  1. Absence of formalities in the organisation of the business
  2. Absence of regulation, lower cost ($2,500jmd) and privacy
  3. No requirement to file annual returns

Disadvantages:

  1. Personal liability for all debts incurred. Because the sole proprietorship is in essence the proprietor, there is no distinction in law between so called business assets and personal assets. Likewise, there is no distinction between business debts and personal debts.
  2. Limited options for financing opportunities- the organisational structure of the sole proprietorship provides no mechanism by which other investors may participate in the business. Therefore, one cannot sell shares to raise capital for the business. The only source of financing other than him/herself would be through bank loans or grants.

The Business Registration Form (BRF1) otherwise called the “Super Form” is used for registration. If you are unsure about the best legal structure for your business, contact an Attorney-at-Law for guidance. Registration of your business is imperative to operate legally within the jurisdiction.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

Understanding Property Taxes

When conducting land transactions in Jamaica, such as the sale of property; transfer of property; first registration of land; and the subdivision of land, a certificate of payment of taxes is required by the Stamp Office or the Parish Council. Many persons are not cognizant of the penalties or the procedure to pay their property taxes. This week, we will examine some key points on this topic.

What you should know about property taxes

All residential and commercial properties are subject to tax in Jamaica. Property Tax is a tax levied on property owners to provide revenue for the provision of public & community amenities provided by the local government. It is charged on the unimproved value of the land.

The Property Tax Act gives the government the authority to charge property tax on all property in Jamaica. All property tax collected is required to be credited to the Parochial Revenue Fund, which is to be used by the government for the general maintenance of the parochial road network, including but not limited to, repairing damaged parochial roads, street lightening and garbage collection.

How to pay your property taxes

Property taxes are due annually at the beginning of each fiscal year. Payments can be made at tax offices island wide or online at www.jamaicatax.gov.jm/property-tax-query. Property owners have the right to pay in instalments (quarterly, half-yearly or in full). Quarterly by end of April, July, October or January. Half-yearly deadlines are by end of July and by end of January. The yearly deadline is by end April.

Property owners in Jamaica or overseas can now conveniently go online and check the status of their outstanding property taxes, once they have their valuation number and can access the E-payment portal. The E-payment portal accepts payment by credit cards.

Penalties

Numerous persons have been brought before the Tax Court in the Parish Court for failure to pay outstanding property taxes.  Under the Tax Collection Act, the tax collector may issue summonses for arrears and penalties owed, if persons fail to attend Court, a Warrant of Disobedience may result, where persons may be imprisoned for up to three (3) months or an Ex Parte order can be made.

Additionally, a caveat can be placed on the property which blocks the owner from transacting any business with the property (e.g. you will not be able to sell your property or even use same as collateral for bank loans etc.). The property can also be seized and sold to recover property taxes owed.

Failure to pay property tax on the date it becomes due will result in a penalty of 10% per annum, which will be added to the outstanding property tax.

Properties Exempt from Paying Taxes

The Property Tax Act provides exemptions for certain types of property including; buildings used for religious purposes, schools and hospitals etc.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

A Father’s Rights to Child Custody and Visitation

June 17, 2018 is Father’s Day and I thought it quite timely to discuss the matter of child custody. In Jamaica, there is a perception that mothers are the main caregivers and in cases where parents separate/ divorce, mothers usually believe they should get sole custody of the child and in some acrimonious instances, refuse the father from visiting their child/ children.

Continue reading A Father’s Rights to Child Custody and Visitation

#metoo: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

In recent months there has been a resurgence of conversations regarding the absence of a sexual harassment legislation in Jamaica. The legislation we hope would clarify the boundaries of what is prohibited, to encourage prevention (through sexual harassment policies) and to provide an early response mechanism within workplaces, to ensure fair treatment of workers during disciplinary proceedings. Having a legislation would require the employer to keep the workplace free from harassment.

For many women and men in the workplace, they do not know what constitutes sexual harassment and there is a culture of silence surrounding this topic in Jamaica because we have concluded that being groped or spoken to inappropriately by a member of the same or opposite sex while working is the norm. Harassment in the workplace can be classified into two groups that covers sexual misconduct in its entirety: Hostile Environment and the Quid Pro Quo Effect in the workplace. A hostile environment means that whenever you are working you have someone that is constantly trying to touch you inappropriately, trying to get in your space even when you are consistently telling them no and that you do not like the idea of them approaching you in that way. While the Quid Pro Quo reaction is when another person attempts to get you to perform a sexual activity to them for you to be promoted or propel your career.

If you feel that you are being harassed on the job, you can take the following steps:

  1. Let the harasser know immediately from the first time it happens that you disapprove.
  2. Document the incident in writing the first time it happens. Keep a record of what was said or done, the time, date and location, and continue to document subsequent utterances or actions.
  3. Speak to other persons in your office as there may be other persons facing the same harassment but are too afraid to say anything.
  4. Speak to someone in your Human Resource Department to find out what policy is in place and the complaint procedure.
  5. And finally, you can take legal action if nothing is done by your employer to ameliorate the situation. Furthermore, if you are dissatisfied with the actions taken by your employer, you can seek independent legal counsel within the purview offered under Jamaican laws.

Additionally, if you are dismissed from your workplace because you refused some sexual advance from a colleague, the recommended response is to report this to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security or your Attorney.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

Understanding the Subdivision of Land Application Process (Part 2)

This week we conclude our subdivision series by outlining the main steps that one should follow when applying for individual titles from the National Land Agency (NLA).

The steps are as follows:

  1. Once the subdivision has been approved by the relevant Municipal Corporation, the applicant should apply for the Deposited Plan number. This is the number that is assigned to the subdivision plan. The following documents are required to be submitted to the National Land Agency: a certified copy of the Resolution by the Municipal Corporation, the pre-checked plan depicting the lots in the subdivision, a Statutory Declaration by the Land Surveyor verifying the accuracy of the pre-checked plan and that the lots and roadways have been marked out on the ground. The Deposited Plan takes approximately eighteen (18) business days to be processed. The applicant will be notified of the deposited plan number which will be assigned to the pre-checked plan.
  2. Secondly, an application form for surrender of the Duplicate Certificate of Title must be submitted to the NLA along with the registration fees. These fees are assessed based on the market value for each individual lot. The application form must describe the property and state the value of the lots as well as the number of titles to be issued. The deposited plan number and date of deposit should also be stated. The application is lodged and assessed by the NLA and where the documents are found to be in order, NLA will process the application and issue individual titles for each lot.

The entire process can be onerous and it is imperative that you engage the services of professionals to assist with your subdivision application.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

 

Understanding the Subdivision of Land Application Process (Part 1)

In rural Jamaica we are familiar with the common practice of land being gifted from one generation to the next. This land is often divided among family members where one person owns “di piece up a top” and another “di piece from di mango tree to the fence.”

This division of land is analogous to a subdivision – the process of dividing a parcel of land into a number of lots and obtaining individual titles (splinter titles) for each lot. All subdivisions must be approved by the relevant parish Municipal Corporation before the land can be divided into the various lots. The Manchester Municipal Corporation located on Hargreaves Avenue, approves subdivision plans for lands located in the parish.

Continue reading Understanding the Subdivision of Land Application Process (Part 1)

What to Do If You Are injured on the Job

Workplaces are required to provide a safe environment for its workers. This includes a duty to provide competent staff and adequate equipment. The concept of a safe system of work is not restricted to providing proper functioning equipment; it extends to providing adequate training and supervision of employees where that is necessary for a safe working environment. The employer is required to give notices and warnings to its employees regarding the ways in which to work safely, highlighting dangers and conduct that they should refrain from in order to maintain safety.

However, accidents do happen on the job and an employee who is injured would require medical attention. In which case, some form of workplace compensation (usually monetary) would be given – usually to help offset medical expenses and all other expenses that occurs when an individual is unable to work.

Continue reading What to Do If You Are injured on the Job

Turning Your Ideas Into Assets!

You have a great idea for a business product, a book, an awesome app, a unique design or some other creative project. Your golden ticket out of your 40-hour week, or maybe just a great side hustle that can earn you some extra money. You may be looking for ways to start working on it but you have one major fear holding you back – if you tell anyone about it or you don’t approach it strategically, someone may steal your idea and capitalize on your intellectual asset.

It’s a common fear among entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, the looming idea that someone bigger and richer will realize the value of your idea and exploit it. Fortunately, these intangible ideas – the products, brands, designs, technology or creative works are intellectual assets that can be protected through intellectual property (IP) law and strategy. With the intellectual assets of the world’s biggest companies forming the majority of their asset portfolio and valued billions of dollars, IP protection and strategy has become a fundamental part of how business strategy, growth and expansion. The greater your understanding on how to identify the value in your intellectual asset and what steps to take to protect it, the greater your likelihood to succeed.

Continue reading Turning Your Ideas Into Assets!