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


  • Shopping for a franchise operation is a fairly protected approach 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 Shopper Safety Act now regulates the connection between franchisees and franchisors – however there are a number of different authorized components to concentrate on 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 response to two attorneys.


Operating a franchise may seem to be a protected and simple approach to earn cash, but it surely’s not at all times plain crusing. You’ll probably should abide by quite a few phrases and circumstances within the franchise settlement, principally to do with the mental property you’re successfully shopping for from the franchisor. And there are additionally at all times dangers concerned – significantly if you happen to don’t do your due diligence or perceive the legalese earlier than signing.

After assembly with the franchisor, passing varied monetary hurdles, and probably even psychometric checks and coaching, you’ll probably face pretty advanced authorized paperwork. Understanding what to anticipate on this paperwork – and making certain it’s all correct and according to South African laws – is essential to working 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 start out. However Hugh Melamdowitz, a associate at Spoor & Fisher South Africa, says “it’s essential that you’ve the best information and ask the best inquiries to keep away from ease and security turning into complication and danger down the street”.

Listed here are a few of the key authorized issues 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 shoppers and “thus take pleasure in nearly all of the rights and protections afforded to different atypical Customers beneath the Act”, says Khotso Mmatli, practising lawyer 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 components Mmatli says to look out for in a franchise settlement is the franchisor’s obligation to supply a ‘Disclosure Doc’ a minimum of 14 days earlier than the events enter into the settlement and earlier than accepting any monies from the potential franchisee.

“The aim of the disclosure doc is to supply the franchisee with data pertaining to the franchisor’s enterprise practices, normally within the type of a franchisor’s Operations Guide, 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 getting into into the settlement,” Mmatli says.

Mmatli additionally says it’s “essential to notice that the events to the franchise settlement can’t comply with waive any of the rights or obligations created beneath the CPA”.

The CPA additionally permits for some escape from the franchise inside an inexpensive 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 handbook would include delicate details about the franchisor’s know-how, processes and methods.”

As such, Mmatli says it’s best to anticipate the franchisor to request you signal a confidentiality settlement “to guard not solely its personal respectable business 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 contains three parts within the type of copyrights, logos, and “know-how” says Melamdowitz.


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


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

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

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

With these secrets and techniques, it could in principle be attainable for franchisees to copy the franchisor’s enterprise. For that reason, it’s additionally attainable that clauses on this part might prohibit franchisees from contacting suppliers immediately. 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 probably stipulate all confidential data, together with funds, business, and technical particulars that allow the enterprise to run.


Emblems are a central component of any franchise. Emblems normally embody the commerce identify, emblem, symbols, slogans and different advertising and marketing parts {that a} franchisor makes use of to determine the enterprise. The franchisor will normally embody all protected logos 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 draws prospects,” says Melamdowitz.

Franchisors will need to have detailed information of their logos – 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 logos like logos and slogans, and if they are often altered in any approach. Departure from clauses to this impact might end in 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 usually be a protected enterprise guess, it’s important to fastidiously learn any franchise settlement earlier than you signal.

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

Franchises aren’t low cost, nevertheless, nor are they essentially failsafe. When doubtful, each legal professionals 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 every little thing is above board earlier than signing up and handing over franchise charges.

Supply: Enterprise Insider South Africa –