Along with the usual steps that you need to take in setting up and running a small business (Read this article to find out more about general company setup), businesses which deal or resell artworks in Australia need to consider some other legal issues.

If you are running a gallery, there are a few matters in particular which you need to consider. These have been set out below:


If you employ any staff, it is recommended that you have a professionally drafted employment agreement for each staff member. Keep in mind; there are national employment standards, which are the minimum employment entitlements that need to be provided to your employees. More information is available at

Workplace Health and Safety 

If you have staff, there are also workplace health and safety matters you need to consider. Running an art gallery can involve physical work, including moving and delivering large pieces of art. You need to ensure that you have the necessary insurance and workers compensation to cover your business in the event that a staff member is injured while at work. If someone is injured at work, you should seek legal advice immediately.


Unless your art gallery is being operated online, it is likely that you will be entering into a lease for premises from which you will run the art gallery. Commercial leases generally last several years and contain significant obligations on the lessee, so it is very important that you have a good understanding of what the lease covers and what your responsibilities are. If you are uncomfortable with any part of your lease, you should speak to a leasing lawyer and discuss your concerns.

Australian Consumer Law

If you are selling to consumers, then the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”) applies. The ACL is designed to protect consumers from unfair business practices and provides the consumer with certain statutory rights, which cannot be excluded. If you are unsure of your obligations as a retailer under the ACL, you should speak with a commercial lawyer.


The artists’ resale royalty scheme started on 9 June 2010. If you are selling artworks, you need to ensure that sales of more than $1,000 are reported to the Copyright Agency and you should ensure that any royalty due to the artists is paid.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

Running an art gallery means dealing with copyright and intellectual property, which may not necessarily be owned by you. There are many legal issues surrounding copyright and intellectual property, and there are significant penalties for any person or entity that infringes another person’s copyright or intellectual property. If you are unclear about your obligations, or unsure of what you are and are not allowed to do with someone else’s art, you should speak with an IP lawyer to check your rights.


If you have any questions regarding legal compliance for your business operations, you should seek legal assistance from an experienced commercial lawyer. A good commercial lawyer will be able to provide you with advice in relation to the matters mentioned above and will be able to provide you with the necessary legal documents to ensure that your business complies with applicable laws.

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