Shareholders’ Agreements

Protect your business from damaging disputes and preserve the value of your business investment with a professionally drafted shareholders’ agreement.

Setting up and running a new business is the perfect moment to invest in developing a legal framework for your company that will protect you, your business and your shareholders as your business grows. Find out how a shareholders’ agreement drafted by a specialist corporate solicitor can provide you with a blueprint to safely navigate your business’s future.

Drafting shareholders’ agreements and related company documents such as your company’s Articles of Association

Our team of corporate solicitors can help your business by:

  • Explaining how a well-drafted shareholders’ agreement is an essential business tool to regulate and manage the relationship between your business and its directors and shareholders.
  • Asking you detailed questions about your company and business dynamics so we can troubleshoot potential issues and conflicts that could occur particular to your situation.
  • Explaining the typical scenarios that can occur during the life of a business that could cause issues and disputes and show you how these can be overcome or prevented.
  • Showing you how having a shareholders’ agreement in place can help you attract new investors.
  • Liaising with shareholders and investors during funding rounds and review any shareholders’ agreement already in place.
  • Reviewing your company’s legal documents and management structure as well as your shareholdings and provide legal advice as to how these could be modified with a shareholders’ agreement in place.
  • Drafting a comprehensive shareholders’ agreement involving founders, directors and shareholders to make sure everyone’s interests are protected as far as possible and balancing the risks to all sides.
  • Negotiating with all parties to the shareholders agreement on your behalf.
  • Altering any other company documents that need amending to bring in line with the shareholders’ agreement.
  • Providing business dispute legal advice and assistance if a dispute with your shareholders has already occurred.
  • Registering your new company documents at Companies House as required.

What our clients say

We pride ourselves on delivering an excellent service for clients, but don’t just take our word for it.

Essentials of shareholders’ agreements

The best time to think about the future of your business is now. Working with family, friends and colleagues is great when things go well, but shareholders can fall out, and once a conflict occurs, trust can evaporate. That’s why we recommend putting in place a professionally drafted shareholders’ agreement as soon as you open your business.

We will help you answer the following questions to flush out the issues:

  • Who are the shareholders and directors of your business, and what percentage shareholding is owned by each individual?
  • Are any of your shareholders also directors?
  • What information do you provide non-director shareholders about the way your business is run?
  • Have you thought about what would happen if you can’t agree on the direction the business would go?
  • Do shareholders want a say in your business affairs or a veto over important decisions like changes in company direction, or entering into high value contracts?
  • Should the directors be bound to follow an agreed business plan?
  • Have you considered what happens to their shares if a shareholder gets ill, retires or dies?
  • Have you thought about what might happen if your majority shareholders receive an offer to buy their shares? Should the minority shareholders be forced to sell their shares too (‘drag-along’)?
  • What if a minority shareholder wants to be able to sell or ‘tag along’ in the same scenario?
  • What if a shareholder wants to sell to an outsider? Can you prevent this? Can you have the right to buy their shares instead?
  • Can you require an employee to give back their shares if they leave the company? Does this depend on the circumstances of their departure?
  • Can you stop exiting shareholders from starting a competing business, or from using your business’s confidential information?
  • What if you own a business 50/50 with another person and you can’t agree a way forward for the business? Can you force them to sell you their shares? Or ask them to buy yours?
  • How will dividends be paid, and to whom?
  • How can shareholders control who can be a director, and how much they are paid?
  • What oversight can shareholders have of board meetings, and how can meetings be regulated so they are fair to all parties, including investors?
  • How can any disputes that do occur be sorted out as amicably as possible without resorting to litigation and how will a shareholders’ agreement regulate these disputes?

What are the advantages of a shareholders’ agreement?

Reduce the potential for conflict and disagreement between shareholders, directors and the company. Disputes are not only distracting, they can lead to highly expensive litigation. Protect yourself from disagreements by putting in place a mechanism to resolve disputes quickly and fairly to all sides.

The law and your company’s Articles of Association only provide your shareholders with a limited amount of protection. Give both majority and minority shareholders the right to participate in decision-making, access business information, and benefit from a sale of the business if this is what would make your valuable investors feel more secure.

Shareholders’ agreements are private documents and don’t have to be registered at Companies House. Don’t give your competitors valuable information about the way you run your business.

Investors like angel investors, private equity and venture capital firms are professional in their business dealings and will expect your business to be properly run. Having a shareholders’ agreement in place shows them that you are serious about your business and want to protect your shareholders as well as yourself. This can help you attract higher-quality, serious investors.

By discussing and negotiating a shareholders’ agreement, you get everyone involved in the business on the same page right from the start so you can run your business with confidence and have a blueprint for day-to-day operations.

Who we help: Start-ups, established businesses, directors, investors and shareholders across a range of sectors

We support a wide range of UK-based companies whether they’re just starting out with a small group of shareholders, or who are later in the company journey and looking to bring new shareholders or investors on board. Putting in place a robust and clear shareholders’ agreement and amending this as the business develops is the best insurance against damaging business disputes and ensuring a harmonious relationship among all your business’s stakeholders.

Examples of our work

Why choose Harper James Solicitors?

We can assist you with strategic analysis of your company and its structure and support you to develop and negotiate an appropriate shareholders agreement, as well as amend your existing company legal documents.

Our corporate solicitors and business dispute solicitors have a wealth of experience in shareholders’ agreements and dispute resolution. We are experienced in identifying your immediate needs and proactively working with you to troubleshoot potential issues so your shareholders’ agreement will not only protect your stakeholders but work to attract investors by demonstrating your professionalism.

Plus, we have all been recruited from top 100 UK law firms or from large international businesses and have advised clients both as external advisors and as in-house corporate counsel. Find out more about the team here:

Pricing plans

Our three transparent pricing packages are designed to give you the widest possible access to high-quality legal advice, whatever the size and nature of your business:

City

Straightforward access to senior solicitors at a competitive rate.

An affordable solution for businesses needing one-off legal support. Receive ‘City’ partner-level expertise at a fraction of ‘City’ prices.

Enterprise

Have legal peace of mind for £189 per month with additional support from £99 per hour.

A monthly subscription legal support package specifically designed for start-ups and smaller businesses.

On-Demand

For businesses requiring 60+ hours of support a year, with prices equivalent to £99 per hour.

Fully account managed quarterly subscription service for businesses with more complex legal needs.

What next?

Please leave us your details and we’ll contact you to discuss your situation and legal requirements. There’s no charge for your initial consultation, and no obligation to instruct us. We aim to respond to all messages received within 24 hours.

  • Your data will only be used by Harper James Solicitors. We will never sell your data and promise to keep it secure. You can find further information in our privacy policy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A national law firm

We mainly work remotely, so we can work with you wherever you are. But we can arrange face-to-face meeting at our offices or a location of your choosing.

Our commercial lawyers are based in or close to major cities across the UK, providing expert legal advice to clients both locally and nationally.

Floor 2, Cavendish House, 39-41 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5PP
Stirling House, Cambridge Innovation Park, Denny End Road, Waterbeach, Cambridge, CB25 9QE
10 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 5HP
13th Floor, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester, M1 4BT
Harwell Innovation Centre, 173 Curie Avenue, Harwell, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QG
2-5 Velocity Tower, 1 St Mary’s Square, Sheffield, S1 4LP