Top 8 Martial Arts Business Legal Questions Answered
When it comes to the law, you don't know what you don't know. If you don’t have the proper protection in place—especially with new COVID laws—this leaves you and your Martial Arts business liable, as well as vulnerable to litigation, and puts everything at risk.
On November 3, 2021, we hosted a free live training + Q&A session with Cory Sterling of Conscious Counsel. During this session, he covered all the important legal essentials you need to know for your business to be safe, secure, and protected; these are the top questions from Martial Arts business owners answered live by Cory.
1) What is a waiver of liability and what do I include in it?
This document is really important for any fitness business. At law, if you are facilitating an activity for someone else you have a duty of care to ensure they don’t get injured or suffer damages by virtue of the activity you’re leading. The law also states you can have participants sign a document called a waiver of liability. A waiver of liability ensures that so long as you let people know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, where it’s being done, and the risks involved then participants are allowed to legally waive any rights they would otherwise have against you or your business.
Major elements to include:
- What are the activities (type of martial art) and what is included in the activity (weight training, sparring, etc)?
- Where the activities take place? (your business's location, any other locations, online if you are doing virtual classes, martial arts tournaments)
- What are the risks involved with each activity?
(ex: sparring can cause personal injury such as concussion, broken bones, etc)
- Voluntary participation: understanding the first three main elements, they voluntarily agree to participate.
- Affirmation of health: understanding the first three main elements, they state they are healthy enough to participate. If there’s a problem around their ability to participate they must seek medical clearance before participating.
2) What additional information should I add to protect my business in light of COVID-19 provisions?
If you are doing classes or activities in person, your waiver of liability should include a part that acknowledges COVID-19 is a communicable disease and that it is possible you may contract it during the activity and we’ve told you this before you started participating in our activities.
3) What three core legal agreements does my martial arts business need?
- Waiver of liability – include what is discussed in questions 1 and 2.
- 43% of cyber attacks take place on small and medium sized businesses. Privacy Policies can be used to protect your business in the event of a hack or cyber attack on your business. Make sure to include a section that states in the event of a data breach what your business process is to handle that situation.
- Social Media / Online Disclaimers let people know how you share information on your website, blog, and over social media. State what you are qualified to do / teach and if people participate through your social media channels or website it is voluntary and risks are understood.
- Service Agreement: Can be a membership agreement or individual coaching agreement, outlines the relationship you want to have with your client. Include the most recent information on auto-pays if your business automatically charges clients.
4) How do I navigate re-opening post COVID-19?
First, you want to modify and update your agreements to ensure they are reflective of how your business is now operating. For example, if you are offering virtual and in-person classes make sure to include this in your membership agreement. For vaccinations, the first rule is make sure you are following your local laws, and then afterwards use your own discretion. You are permissible to allow only vaccinated individuals in classes if you choose, and if you would like to keep your classes open for everyone just make sure you are following local laws.
5) When and why should I trademark my business name?
When you register a trademark, it gives you exclusive use and enforceable rights. This allows you to send a cease and desist if you see someone else using your trademark. The other benefit is you avoid the situation if someone else sends you a cease and desist. If you have a business registered under your brand name, even if you own the domain and have used the name for many years, someone else can still register the name as a trade mark and will be given priority under law for using the name.
When should you register a trademark? As soon as you are committed to your business name and its services or goods.
6) What liabilities do owners incur for hiring foreign nationals that work under the table? What if they are in the country illegally, do your legal documents cover them?
We cannot condone anyone following immigration or visa rules. If you know what you are doing is illegal or wrong, then you are not in control of the situation and a whole suite of possibilities could then ensue. Your business will be at risk for fines and will make any legal agreements difficult to enforce.
7) Are we obligated to give our members vaccinations records to health authorities should they visit the facility?
No, your obligation is to follow the rules. Your business does not need to collect the information, if clients must to vaccinated to attend your classes you simply have to check their vaccination status. After that has been checked once, you can mark in your system that it has been checked and you do not need to ask for that information again. Business should hold as little personal information about their clients as possible to protect themselves.
8) How do I protect independent contractors from liability?
First thing you want to ensure your contractors have insurance coverage. Second, check your local laws about contractors and make sure your business is treating them as such. Because contractors operate their own business, you need to have an independent contractor agreement. This agreement should include what their responsibilities are, what your responsibilities are, and what you’ll cover them for. You also need to make sure your insurance covers them and that their insurance specifically names your business and the services they provide you.
Cory Sterling is the founder of the heart-leading law firm Conscious Counsel (CC), awarded Most Innovative Fitness and Wellness Law Firm of 2021. These experienced lawyers have supported hundreds of wellness professionals and Martial Arts studio owners across the world with their legal agreements (270+ 5* Google reviews.) They are on a mission to transform the way legal services are offered by creating a fun, empowering, secure and peaceful experience.
The information in this article is provided for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or other professional advice. If you require specific legal advice on any issue please consult a lawyer. The information contained on this site was correct at the time it was posted.