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Clause in contract with UK agency: maximum invoicing period
Thread poster: Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:13
German to English
Dec 4, 2008

Ladies and gents, colleagues and colleaguesesses, lads and lasses,

I am reading through a contract that a UK agency would like me to sign and am pondering one clause in particular. The agency instructs me to present my invoices within three months or forfeit the invoice. I don't intend to wait more than three months before writing my invoice, but I'm trying to cover all bases here. What if I fall ill, have an accident or drop down dead before I get to the post box and my family forget to post the invoice (and they might need the money for the party )? Is such a clause even legal (in the UK)? Can the agency prescribe a period within which I MUST invoice them, even if most reasonable people would consider the specified period to be reasonable? It's only a short step from three months to two, then to one. In five years time they'll be telling me I have to invoice them before I start the job or lose my money! As I state above, I don't REALLY see it causing problems, but it has got me wondering about the legal implications. Thanks in advance for your interest.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:13
French to English
+ ...
Not sure Dec 4, 2008

I don't think I'd have a problem signing such a clause (though someone may come in with a legal implication I hadn't thought of!). I am sometimes slow to invoice, though never as much as three months, and I know it causes some agencies headaches - the more conscientious PMs have to take time to email me to remind me to invoice, and I regret making them do that. I think such a clause helps an agency to manage its cashflow better.

I don't think there's any reason to suspect a 'slippery slope' such as you describe. It's a three-month clause, and only in the highly unlikely event that the period is reduced would I think there were cause for concern.

I've only had a little bit of coffee this morning so I can't remember the exact reference, but I recall reading something by Mary Warnock on the 'slippery slope' argument which was very interesting (she argues, basically, that it's not a very sound basis on which to argue anything).


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Bruce Gordon  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:13
Member (2008)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Just good business practice! Dec 4, 2008

Alan,
I think this clause is perfectly reasonable from the agency's perspective. It's an efficiency measure on their part, so that they can predict their own cashflow fairly acurately. I also happen to feel that it's a basic courtesy (!) to agencies to submit the invoice as soon as possible after completion of the job.
I tend to submit the invoice WITH the final job file(s) in the vast majority of cases, unless I know of some further adjustment work that's going to be involved (running versions of the same draft file or missing sections in the source text yet to be provided). Then I know that I've done my bit and it's all down to the agency to pay within their agreed period. This only takes a couple of minutes at the end of a job and provides a degree of certainty for both parties.
Some agencies ask specifically to be invoiced weekly or monthly for al the work done during the period, and that's fine, but otherwise it's just an easy administrative step which will help to keep cash flow moving.
The other point you make, about shortening the 3 month period, is again a point of contractual agreement, and you have the choice if they suggest such a thing to take it or leave it or negotiate.


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Alan Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:13
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not really a problem Dec 4, 2008

Thanks Angela and Bruce for your replies. Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings, I think I should point out again that I don't really have a problem with signing this contract, in fact I've already faxed it back. You've both made good points. I generally invoice immediately after completing a job. I do have one or two clients that send me a lot of small jobs and I then invoice end-of-monthly. I just haven't come across this clause before and so it seemed a bit odd. Thanks for your interest.

What if I do drop dead on the way to the post box? OK, the wife's insured me!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:13
Dutch to English
+ ...
If it were me ... Dec 4, 2008

... I would probably have signed it with an amendment to the fact that the clause will not apply in cases of force majeure or any other form of impossibility of performance.

Whether that's even necessary is debatable, but as we can't give legal advice in the forums I'll limit myself to saying what I would have done with my translator's hat on


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:13
Member (2008)
Italian to English
and what about maximum payment time? Dec 7, 2008

- do they also specify that? I wouldn't agree to one without the other.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:13
English to German
+ ...
Oh my, I would be poor. Dec 7, 2008

I am the lousiest invoice writer on earth.

Forfeit the invoice? That's a good one. After all, I am granting extra credit for all this time. They should send me flowers.



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