Starting a dental practice: 6 steps to keeping it legal

Starting a dental practice is not merely about perfecting the art of dentistry. There’s also the side to understanding business management and the legal obligations that come with it.

Here’s a guide if you’re looking to set up a dental practice, to help you make informed decisions from a legal perspective.

1.    Business structure

First things first – choosing the right business structure. Whether you opt for a sole trader, partnership, or limited liability company; each has its own implications concerning liability, taxation, and management. A limited company, for instance, may offer more protection from personal liability and can be advantageous for tax reasons. Learn about the differences between a sole trader and a limited company here.

If you’re building your practice with another party you should consider which type of agreement you need; partnership or shareholder. Feel free to contact us if you are unsure of which agreement you require; it’s what we do best!


2.    Commercial agreements

When starting up a dental practice you will enter numerous commercial contracts – from equipment suppliers and patient contracts to software vendors. It’s crucial to understand the terms of these agreements, ensuring they are fair and do not contain any hidden clauses that could be disadvantageous for you or your practice.

It’s important that your business contracts are drafted by an experienced solicitor. If you’re in doubt please contact us, we are here to advise and support you with your new business venture.


3.    Commercial property

Finding the right location is key. But before signing any lease or purchasing property there are several factors to consider:

  • Property use: Ensure that the property can in fact be used for your business purpose or, if a change of use planning application is required.
  • Heads of terms: Ensure that the heads of terms that you agree with a landlord are appropriate for your business – for example, will landlord consent be needed for any alterations that you intend to carry out? Will you have to tie up money for a period of time as a rent deposit and is VAT payable on the rents?
  • Future expansion: Can the property grow with your business or, do you foresee yourself growing out of the premises?
  • Cost: Ensure that your business will be able to meet any bank loan instalments or rents not just in the short term but in the medium and long term and, also meet the cost of repairs and improvements going forward.

Talk to our commercial property team if you need guidance.


4.    Employment

Hiring is a big step. For a dental practice, this might include other dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, reception staff, and administrative staff. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Contracts: You need clear employment contracts. These should detail job roles, salary, non-compete clauses, and grounds for termination.
  • Employee rights: Stay updated with workers’ rights concerning working hours, overtime, benefits, and holiday entitlement.
  • Discrimination: Ensure your hiring processes are thorough and free from any form of discrimination.
  • Redundancy and dismissal: When faced with these circumstances, ensure your practice is acting legally.

Need advice? Our employment lawyers are here to help.


5.    Licenses and permits

The dental profession is heavily regulated. Make sure you:

  • Obtain the necessary licenses to practice dentistry (CQC contracts).
  • Comply with health and safety regulations, ensuring that your practice meets all required standards.


6.    Patient data and privacy

Maintaining patient confidentiality is both an ethical obligation and a legal requirement. Familiarise yourself with data protection laws to ensure you’re storing and processing patient data correctly.

Learn more about avoiding data breaches here.


Are you starting up a dental practice?

Having a strong legal foundation is essential for a thriving dental practice. Here at Rubric, we know the ropes when it comes to supporting practices. Our advice can help you avoid legal pitfalls and guide your practice toward steady growth.

0117 435 4350 I