Thoughts and guidance for Pennsylvania businesses

Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

By Julian Neiser on G+ The Pennsylvania Legislature several years ago passed a law called the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (the “Act” or the “HICPA”).  The purpose of the law is to establish rules and govern conduct of home improvement contractors who primarily work with residential customers. This article is a brief overview.  However, if any of this is new to you, then you need to talk with a…

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Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law

By Julian Neiser on G+ Selling a home is a major milestone that can mark the end of a long and time-consuming process for everyone involved.  However, without full disclosure — prior to closing — of problems with a home, the buyer and seller could find themselves at odds long after the sale. Being “at odds” really means engaged in a lawsuit that could involve tens of thousands of dollars.…

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Default Judgments in Pennsylvania

By Julian Neiser on G+ I’ve been seeing a rash of judgments taken by default against small businesses.  This means that a lawsuit was filed, no response or defense was made and a judgment was taken without a fight. Then, months — and even years — later, clients need to fix these problems. The reasons range from a failure to open mail to a neighbor signing for a hearing notice…

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Employment Law Tips for Small Businesses

By Julian Neiser on G+ Employment costs are usually among the largest for businesses of all sizes. Employment issues also can be among the most problematic, invasive and disruptive — whether the business has two employees or 500. Many small-and-mid-size businesses leave themselves open to employment-related problems by not taking precautions through policies, contracts and other tools. The reasons range from perceived high cost to owners not wanting to be…

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Pa. Mechanics’ Lien Law Update

I’m a member of council for the Allegheny County Bar Association Construction Law section, and we had an interesting discussion yesterday about a proposed bill to change portions of the Mechanics’ Lien law. Subcontractors must keep an eye on the law and understand how to comply, otherwise they could lose their rights to file a lien for nonpayment. Simply put, the law (House Bill 473 in its current form), would…

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You’ve Incorporated. Now What?

By Julian Neiser on G+ Incorporation alone isn’t enough to protect your assets or prevent personal liability.  As with everything, there are rules and exceptions. It’s true that incorporation is mandatory for most businesses.  In most circumstances, incorporation will create a complete barrier between your personal and business finances.  Sometimes, however, mismanagement and neglect can cause that barrier to falter. There is a legal theory called “piercing the corporate veil”…

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What is an “Outside” General Counsel?

Many companies would be well served with an in-house attorney.  However, this is a luxury most small businesses cannot afford.  This is a short blurb about how the relationship can work and be structured. I’ve served as general counsel and have been the attorney of record for a many businesses and can tell you that I was used in ways most wouldn’t expect.  Sure, there was the typical contract review,…

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The Prompt Payment Act: Know the Rules

Pennsylvania law permits contractors and subcontractors to recover interest and attorney fees if they aren’t paid on time.  Actually, the law doesn’t just permit these penalties — it mandates them under certain circumstances.  And there are tricky requirements and payment milestones imposed by this law. This law (fully named the Pennsylvania Subcontractor/Contractor Payment Act) was designed to help contractors get paid on time — even if their contracts aren’t very…

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Don’t get stiffed…

Few people actually go into a business transaction with the intention of not paying the other side. But sometimes things happen, and it’s not uncommon for one business to “stiff” another because of a change in circumstances. There is an untold number of things that can kill cash flow and make AP a complete nightmare, to include your largest client deciding (unilaterally) to change payment terms, rework to fix a…

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