Business Law

Taking care of your business as if it was our own 

Are you starting your own business, or already established and need some advice? Our specialist team at Whitelaw McDonald can help you with a wide range of matters, from reviewing contracts, property concerns and employment law, to choosing business structures or resolving commercial disputes. Whatever your concern is, we will take the time to understand it and help you solve it. 

Contact us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or via our contact form.

Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution

If you are involved in a commercial dispute, we have the expertise and experience to make sure you solve the matter in the best way possible, leaving you to focus on what is important – the growth and health of your business. 

Some disputes may involve litigation, that is, going to a court or tribunal. Others may be resolved before reaching this point, through negotiation, mediation or arbitration. By engaging Whitelaw McDonald early, you can save time and money if we can help you to resolve the dispute before reaching court. Our expert dispute resolution team will take you through the process, and if it does ultimately go to court, will take you through the court process with pragmatic and practical advice. 

Matters which may result in disputes include:

  • breaches of business or commercial contracts
  • property disputes including commercial leases
  • administrative law
  • employment law and disputes
  • discrimination issues
  • business dissolutions
  • shareholder issues and disputes
  • interference with business relationships
  • trade practice issues
  • corporations law disputes
  • building and construction disputes
  • disputes over non-competition clauses
  • breach of fiduciary duty
  • franchise issues
  • partnership disputes
  • debt collection.

Litigation can take precious time and resources away from the business. At Whitelaw McDonald we will advise on dispute resolutions available to you, which also includes informal settlement conferences, mediation, arbitration and conciliation. Our team of qualified and experienced mediators can assist in coming to a satisfactory outcome, often without the need for litigation, saving you time, stress and money.

Call us to discuss any matters of commercial litigation or dispute resolution today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Trade marks 

When you have worked hard to create a successful business, it’s important to make sure you protect its identity and brand. The best way to do this is to protect the unique elements of the brand which add to its recognition and success – name, logo, a tagline/slogan, colour or sound. Whitelaw McDonald can help you protect these assets by helping with trade mark registration. You can operate your business without registering trade marks, however, the registration is an important record which can help if you seek to enforce exclusive rights of your brand marks at any stage. 

Our specialist team can help you with:

  • trade mark registration in Australia and overseas
  • renewing an Australian trade mark
  • responding to a trade mark objection
  • defending a trade mark infringement 
  • IP dispute resolution
  • confidentiality agreements 
  • unauthorised use of your intellectual property 
  • commercial licensing and copyright. 


The other form of intellectual property protection is patenting. This applies to creations and inventions of a suitable subject matter that are new, useful and inventive. A patent can cover a broad range of inventions, including:

  • medical technology
  • pharmaceuticals
  • biotech
  • organic chemistry
  • civil engineering
  • appliances
  • mechanical devices.

By receiving a patent you will have: 

  • exclusive commercial rights – a monopoly in the market
  • the freedom to license someone else to manufacture your invention
  • the right to take legal action that stops others from manufacturing, using and/or selling your invention in Australia without your permission.

It is important that you do not disclose your creation or invention to the public before you file your patent application, as it will mean your patent is not considered ‘new’ and your application may fail. Our specialist team will guide you through the process and make sure you protect your hard work. 

Get in touch today to discuss your business and its trade marks and/or patents, on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Business Sale and Purchase

Business Sale and Purchase

Are you looking to buy a business or company, or sell yours? If so, you have come to the right place for the expertise to help you navigate what can be a complex journey.

There is a lot to consider in buying and selling a business, including:

  • sale structure and inclusions
  • contracts
  • employment concerns and managing employee entitlements
  • financials
  • leasing arrangements
  • tax implications 
  • intellectual property. 

Whitelaw McDonald has the specialist knowledge to make sure these considerations are thoroughly dealt with, and we will help you to negotiate commercial terms so you are in the best position possible, whether you are buying or selling. We will help you to investigate the risks and liabilities of a business you are looking to buy, or merge with, and whether you are buying or selling, we will make sure your rights are protected and your commercial interests are achieved. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Property and Leasing

Property and Leasing

Our specialised commercial law team are experts in what can be complex property matters, and will provide specialist advice, whether you are the purchaser or the vendor, for a range of commercial property types including: 

  • retail shopping centres and individual shops
  • retirement villages
  • hotels and motels
  • registered clubs
  • medical centres
  • office buildings
  • industrial property
  • vineyards. 

We can also help you with other property law areas, such as:

  • the sale and purchase of commercial property
  • commercial leasing in all sectors
  • issues that can affect commercial property:
    • land use,
    • restrictive covenants,
    • environmental and Native Title obstacles, and
    • easements
  • planning law
  • liquor and gaming licences
  • mortgages and securities.

From buying, selling and leasing to licensing, water rights and securities, we will help you navigate the commercial property process, explaining everything so you completely understand before you sign anything, and make sure your property issues are resolved as quickly as possible, leaving you one step closer to your goals. Get in touch with our expert property team today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.



If you are looking to buy into a franchise, or looking to sell, Whitelaw McDonald will help with all aspects of the buying/selling process, helping you to realise your business goals as quickly and stress-free as possible. 

We deal with all aspects of the franchising process, including:

  • understanding your obligations under the Franchising Code of Conduct 
  • reviewing contracts of sale and other franchise documentation 
  • negotiating with vendors/franchisors 
  • advising on the commercial lease
  • preparing or reviewing licence and distribution arrangements 
  • filing applications to register business names or logos as trademarks. 

With our help, you will know your rights are protected and you are getting the best possible outcome so you can move onto your next venture stress-free. 

Call our team today to discuss any needs or concerns around franchising, on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Employment Law

Employment Law

If you are looking for the expertise and advice of experienced employment lawyers, Whitelaw McDonald can help you with whatever employment matter you may be experiencing, including: 

  • contracts, policies and guidelines 
  • negotiating terms and conditions of employment 
  • contractor’s agreements 
  • advising on restraints of trade 
  • advising on employee and contractor employment relationships 
  • advising on terminations of employment (including obligations as well as unfair dismissal claims)
  • workplace health and safety 
  • anti-discrimination law 
  • workplace bullying and harassment claims. 

With the right advice, you can run your business smoothly, knowing your rights are protected, and providing a happy and productive workplace. Call our specialist employment lawyers today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Commercial Agreements / Contracts

Commercial Agreements / Contracts

Commercial agreements cover a wide range of contracts that you may enter into regularly through the course of running your business. It is important to get an expert to review any contracts before signing to make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to. 

Whitelaw McDonald’s specialist team reviews a wide range of contracts, including

  • confidentiality agreements
  • joint venture and partnership agreements
  • partnership agreements
  • franchising agreements
  • joint venture agreements
  • service and consultancy agreements
  • employment and contractor agreements
  • loan agreements
  • distribution and supply agreements
  • licence agreements
  • share agreements
  • sale/purchase of a business
  • contract for the sale of goods and services.

Whatever your contract is, we have the right specialist team to examine it closely and make sure your rights are protected and it is in your best interest. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation. 

Small Business Legal Audits / Corporate Compliance

There’s a lot to think about when running a small business, and at Whitelaw McDonald we take you through a legal audit, to help you avoid any noncompliance issues and legal risks. You can get back to focusing on your business knowing you are protected.

In our legal audit we make sure you have the procedures, processes, policies and other documentation in place covering: 

  • risk management
  • insurance
  • business planning
  • basic company and market vision
  • business continuity in the event of a disaster 
  • government compliance
  • shareholdings/membership matters
  • laws
  • recordkeeping
  • directors’ liabilities
  • intellectual property protection
  • employment
  • contracts
  • cost saving measures
  • succession and exit strategy planning
  • litigation.

By utilising our expertise in small business legal audits, you can rest easy knowing you have the internal controls and compliance in your small business, so you run it efficiently and effectively and focus on your day-to-day knowing everything is in place. Call us today to discuss your business on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Business Succession Planning

Business Succession Planning

When you are a business owner, it is important to protect the lifetime of your business well beyond its current operation and ownership structure. One day you will exit the business, whether through retirement or just moving on – so it is critical to make sure you have thought about the when and how. 

Formulating strategies and managing them is key to planning an exit of the business. No matter which exit strategy you choose, planning, managing and executing your business succession properly will see you exiting the business easily and profitably.

Business succession means many different things for different business structures. For public companies and for privately-held companies where ownership is continuous, the focus of succession is on the development, retention, growth, and promotion of talent. For small businesses, where ownership does not rest in the same hands over time, business succession means something quite different.

For small businesses, succession implies an orderly hand-over by an owner to a partner or purchaser. It also suggests an owner’s exit from their business through total or partial divestment of ownership. It also recognises the passing of the management baton. 

Small business owners are often emotionally engaged with their business and find it difficult to consider that the business can be operated successfully by another person. For some, the choice of a successor is not clear-cut, particularly when partners and family are involved and the choice of one successor may result in conflicts with others interested in the business. Most small business owners simply do not know what to do.

Our expert team will help you navigate these challenges and anything else you may be facing, so you know that when the time comes, plans are in place and exiting will be a smooth experience. Speak to them today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Business Structuring

Business Structuring

It is important to think carefully about how you will structure your business – Whitelaw McDonald will help you understand the different structures and the implications. The 4 most common ways in Australia to structure your business are:

  • sole trader – operates the business as an individual and solely legally responsible for the business, including debts and liabilities
  • partnership – 2 or more individuals or entities who agree, usually through a partnership agreement, to be in business together. There are 3 types of partnerships:
    • general partnership – all partners are equally liable, and liability is unlimited in regards to debts and obligations 
    • limited partnership – liability of the general partners is limited to the amount of the contribution to the partnership
    • incorporated limited partnership – partners have limited liability as long as one of the general partners has unlimited liability
  • company – regulated by the Corporations Act 2001 and a separate entity to the members. It has the same rights as a natural person so no one person is liable for debts and obligations
  • trust – the trustee holds property or income for beneficiaries.

However you would like to set your business up, our highly skilled team will work with you to make sure you choose the right model for your business, for now and for the future. Call us today to discuss proposed or existing business on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Start Ups

Start Ups

If you’re conceptualising a start up business, or already started, get in touch so we can help you with things like: 

  • business structure and set up advice
  • registering your ABN, tax file number and business name 
  • agreements and contracts with partners, shareholders, investors, employees, contractors etc 
  • lease agreements
  • co-founders agreements 
  • capital raising 
  • employee stock ownership plans (ESOPS)
  • intellectual property advice, trademark and brand protection
  • terms and conditions for services and product usage.

Lean on our specialised team to help with those details, and you can focus on what you love – the business. Reach out today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.