Franchise lawyers take on dodgy dealers

A GROUP of 11 law firms have teamed up to protect business clients from being preyed upon by businesses offering questionable franchise deals.

The Franchise Information Exchange has been set up by Hampshire solicitors Sherwin Oliver to ensure clients are warned away from dishonest franchise offers which could cost them thousands of pounds.

The network of firms across the country will exchange information about franchisers and pool their legal knowledge in case deals go wrong.

The system will allow firms to identify unreliable franchisers early on, so that they can warn their clients not to sign deals with them.

Andy Peck, a partner at Sherwins, said the project was a collaboration of common interests to assess the track record of franchisers.

He said business franchising was “big business” in the UK and provided aspiring business people with excellent opportunities to set up shop using a tried and tested format.

But he warned that some people were being exploited by unscrupulous operators who simply walked away with up front fees of between £5,000 and £50,000, without providing franchisees with the back-up they needed to ensure their businesses survive.

Peck said that financial opportunism was a recognised problem within the industry.

“As our firm is an affiliated member of the British Franchise Association we are committed to supporting ethical franchising and preventing clients getting involved with the wrong franchiser,” he said.

The other member firms are Beveridge Ross & Prevenzer, of London; Burstows, of Crawley; Coleman & Co, of Manchester; Donne Mileham & Haddock, of Brighton; Leathes Prior, of Norwich; North & Co, of London; Sylvester Amiel Lewin & Horne, of London; Wansborough Willey Hargrave, of Bristol; Wragge & Co, of Birmingham; and Lawrence Tucketts, of Bristol.