Your overall task is to advise a client or clients on how to structure their business â€“ either as a sole
trader, partnership, joint venture, or company. You do not have to consider all four of these in your
advice â€“ which ones are relevant will depend on the clientsâ€™ circumstances. You should not consider
trusts, as they are used primarily to minimise tax, and tax law is not part of this course. (Assume that
the clients instruct you that they had a bad past experience with trusts because of the extra
administration and accountancy fees that trusts create, and they donâ€™t want to do that again). You
should generally avoid any substantial advice on tax, although you can make some basic comments.
The tax implications of business structures are a lot more complicated than websites (such as the
ATO) suggest, and since tax is not part of this course, it is best to avoid it.
In order to provide this advice you need to perform these 4 sub-tasks:-
1. Draw up a list of questions to ask your client so as to gather the information and instructions
necessary for you to advise.
2. Write down your clientsâ€™ answers to the questions, including any follow-up queries to clarify
3. Research the law relevant to your advice.
4. Write an advice directed to the clientsâ€™ situation, including a recommendation on the best
form of business structure for their needs.
The intention of the assignment is that you will obtain instructions from a real person who is in a
business, or is interested in setting up a business. The person is likely to be a friend or family
member, but in any event they need to be willing to answer your questions. It doesnâ€™t have to be a
real existing business; it may be a business that they dream about setting up. (Perhaps, by talking to
them about it, you will encourage them to fulfil their dream!) You should tell them that it is an
imaginary exercise for the purpose of your studies, but you would like real information if they donâ€™t
mind giving it. You must make sure that they do NOT think that they are getting real legal advice
from a qualified person, or that the advice will be verified or approved by the university.
If you canâ€™t find anyone to assist, you could try searching the Internet for a business that would be
suitable for your advice, but remember that you have to be able to get the necessary information to
answer your questions. You could also ask a few friends to make up a business and talk amongst
themselves about it before answering your questions. The important thing is that the information they
give you should be sensible and consistent, so that the advice is based on a realistic case.
Probably the biggest mistake students make in doing assignments is that they do not study as they
would for an exam. Instead, they start by looking at the assignment and then try to look up only the
parts of the course that look like they are relevant to the assignment. The trouble is, you cannot say
what the relevant parts of the course are without knowing the course first. In real life you need to
understand all the concepts so that you can identify the relevant issues when a client approaches you.
So the best preparation for the assignment is simply to study the course properly. Understanding of
the modules preceding the assignment due date will be sufficient, but you can go beyond that if you
wish. You will need a good conceptual understanding of the legal principles before you work out
what questions to ask your client. You will also need a good conceptual understanding to work out
what to research and, more importantly, what NOT to research. And you will need a good conceptual
understanding to formulate your advice. If you try to isolate your study to the areas raised directly by
the assignment, your advice is likely to be disjointed and omit some important aspects.
You also need to start work on your assignment early. This is not the sort of assignment that you can
do within a day or so of the due date.
Before providing advice to a client, you need to get the necessary information or instructions. There
will be some information that is essential to your advice, and other information that is useful as
background. You should have a general understanding of a business before advising on it. You need
to think about what a client will want to know in this situation so that they can make their decision,
what law will be relevant to it, and what information you need in order to apply that law to the facts.
You will be assessed on the quality of the questions you ask, especially on their relevance to the
The Answers to the Questions
As stated above, the answers to the questions should be real, or at least realistic. That is why it is
much better to use a real life situation with a real person, because they are likely to give sensible,
consistent information. If you start making things up, it is harder for the information as a whole to be
coherent. The answers should be submitted along with the questions, but you will not be assessed on
the answers. However, clients often give incomplete answers, and as a professional you may have to
ask extra questions to get the information you need. If you fail to do this, leaving a hole in your
instructions, your marks for the questions may be reduced. Inevitably, clients are very wordy in their
answers, so you may have to summarise here to meet the word limit for this section.
In practice, you would not give a lot of detail about technical law in your advice to a client, but for the
purposes of the course you should describe the law you regard as relevant to your advice, including
references to sections of statutes and relevant cases. You also need to explain WHY the law you are
describing is relevant to the issues in the assignment. Remember, you are advising a client on what
business structure to adopt. This does NOT mean that you simply write out all the law related to the
various business structures. Not all of it will be relevant to a decision about what business structure to
adopt. In marking your research component, the marker will be comparing it to a similar situation in
practice. In practice, unnecessary research is costly to your client and to your employer.
Recommendations to the Client
Having conducted the necessary research, you need to apply it to the facts of your clientsâ€™ situation
and make a recommendation about the structure that the client should adopt. You need to consider
the pros and cons of the alternatives, firstly because the client will have to weigh up the alternatives
(itâ€™s their decision, not yours), and secondly because they may not accept your first recommendation