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Liability when quality/delivery etc is affected by factors beyond one's control
Thread poster: xxxLia Fail
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 29, 2009

What do you thing the standard legal position (if there is one) would be if one delivered sub-standard work, failed to deliver on time, or accepted a job then changed one's mind, becuase of circumstances completely beyond one's control?

As some possible examples: imagine this was someone who decides they have to leave their home very suddenly because of a fear of violence, becuase of physical or mental abuse by a family member, becuase their building was endangered ...).

Would tsuch circumstances be considered force majeure? Would evidence of taking legal action protect/serve as a defence of this person?


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:27
English to French
+ ...
Force majeure Jan 29, 2009

Yes of course, events that are clearly beyond your control are also called "acts of God" and such phrases.

The most typical is meteorology, earthquakes... but there also belated planes or train...

In case of a criminal danger, you not only have the right but the duty to protect yourself, and work becomes neglectable compared to your own safety.

You just need evidence.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:27
Dutch to English
+ ...
Absolutely Jan 29, 2009

Lia Fail wrote:

What do you thing the standard legal position (if there is one) would be if one delivered sub-standard work, failed to deliver on time, or accepted a job then changed one's mind, becuase of circumstances completely beyond one's control?

As some possible examples: imagine this was someone who decides they have to leave their home very suddenly because of a fear of violence, becuase of physical or mental abuse by a family member, becuase their building was endangered ...).

Would tsuch circumstances be considered force majeure? Would evidence of taking legal action protect/serve as a defence of this person?




Yes. Apart from anything else, it is only fair to the customer. You cannot help but deliver substandard work if you have to work under these conditions.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
An interesting question Jan 29, 2009

I personally believe that I am always responsible, no matter what. No hurricane, volcano eruption, tidal wave, riot, or family breakdown is a good enough excuse for me not to follow through on my promise.

That said, if some such force majeure happens to me, I imagine I'd miss a deadline. But still, in a lot of those instances it will have been my fault for not having contingency procedures in place. Never know when a meteorite might fall on your house and destroy your computer.

[Edited at 2009-01-29 08:11 GMT]


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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 21:27
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
A heads up for the client Jan 29, 2009

If circumstances didn't not permit me to do a good job or do it on time, I would immediately inform the client. It would have to be pretty dramatic that you couldn't even send them a message - if it did get that bad and I was lying in a coma, work might be the last on my last of worries anyway.

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:27
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Unreliable Internet? Jan 29, 2009

I lost my e-mails with attachments many times. My clients told that I broke the promise of delivery.
In fact, many e-mails were lost somewhere.
Now I read from Taija that such delay can be my own responsibility.

Soonthon L.


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Mary Georgina Hardinge  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:27
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
best to ask for confirmation of receipt Jan 29, 2009

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

I lost my e-mails with attachments many times. My clients told that I broke the promise of delivery.
In fact, many e-mails were lost somewhere.
Now I read from Taija that such delay can be my own responsibility.

Soonthon L.


Can you set your e-mail settings to ask automatically for confirmation of receipt? If not, best to ask for it in the e-mail. Good idea to have a phone number and alternative e-mail account, so if you don't receive confirmation of receipt you can ring them to check and send the work through the other account if they haven't received it - it is not unusual for Windows updates or server administrator settings to "lose" e-mails without telling you.


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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 21:27
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
I didn't actually say that Jan 29, 2009

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

I lost my e-mails with attachments many times. My clients told that I broke the promise of delivery.
In fact, many e-mails were lost somewhere.
Now I read from Taija that such delay can be my own responsibility.

Soonthon L.


But I think if that keeps happening to you on a regular basis, you have to do something about it. Whose responsibility is it if not yours to make sure your systems are up and running. I've never lost a mail on Gmail, but if that started happening, I would take some action to make sure I could trust my mails getting there. This depends on what email system you use.

Then again, internet connections are one of those unpredictable factors that are not under your control and this I think would fall under force majeure if connections were down on a larger area - if it just your connection, you would have to take your translation and go send it somewhere else. I don't like to be that dependent on the net, but what can we do...


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
semblances Jan 29, 2009

Taija Salo wrote:

If circumstances didn't not permit me to do a good job or do it on time, I would immediately inform the client. It would have to be pretty dramatic that you couldn't even send them a message - if it did get that bad and I was lying in a coma, work might be the last on my last of worries anyway.


Thing is, you would want to maintain a semblance of normality and also try to keep personal and professional issues separate. You can't act the drama queen and nor does it make sense to tell the new client who contacted you 3 days ago and whose job you accepted of your personal difficulties (maybe older clients, but even then minimally).

And doing a "good" job is subjective; obviously one will always do one's best, but one's best when there are no problems is not likely to be the same "best" as when working in difficult circumstances.

It's not about something as drastic as illness or death, just about a transitionary period when you suddently have to react to adverse circumstances and when the last thing you want is to alienate a client or clients, becuase you want to retain a semblance oif normality as one way of trying to return to normaility:-)


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:27
French to English
+ ...
sympathy Jan 29, 2009

Lia Fail wrote:

Thing is, you would want to maintain a semblance of normality and also try to keep personal and professional issues separate. You can't act the drama queen and nor does it make sense to tell the new client who contacted you 3 days ago and whose job you accepted of your personal difficulties (maybe older clients, but even then minimally).


I think it's an intractable problem with freelancing, that you feel as though you have to put up a front of normality and professionalism at all times, even though sometimes things are going wrong (with work or with other things) and if you had a 'normal' job you could cry on a colleague's shoulder, have a bad day and then make up for it another time.

It's probably not like this for everyone but some personality types probably feel it more than others. I do. I don't think I have a solution, but I do sympathise


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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 21:27
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Ok, now I see what you mean Jan 29, 2009

Easing up on the workload might be best - looser deadlines, less stress, more time to concentrate if concentrating is difficult to make sure your work is still acceptable.

I know a thing or two about keeping up the appearance of normality and waiting for the storm to blow over. It'll help you get through it unless the whole house crumbles down. If people start noticing, it's best to let them know what is going on.


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 15:27
French to English
+ ...
cotingency plans Jan 29, 2009

Contingency plans are a must. I have back-up, in the form of four other translators (certified in my language pair, which is a must for my clients), and we cover for each other. When my mother passed away last summer unexpectedly, of course I was in the middle of three jobs. I didn't contact the clients immediately. First, I contacted my back-up, who all assured me that they would fill in wherever required and that I could forward unfinished jobs to them if need be. Only then did I contact the clients and tell them what had happened and who to call for translation. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, but the reality is that their business doesn't stop running because of a translator's personal situation. They have deadlines, their clients have deadlines, and so on down the line. Of course, my clients were extremely sympathetic and did not impose on my back-up translators, but I felt better having put things in order first.
It only took half an hour to email the other translators, get their go-ahead and pass their names along to the clients.

We all need other translators we can call on. That's what makes us a community


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:27
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Communication is the key Jan 29, 2009

The important thing is to communicate with your client. If you're having problems completing the work on time for reasons beyond your control, you *must* let the client know. I don't mean going into details of family break-ups and so on, I think that would be unnecessary and sound unprofessional, but certainly you could say "for personal reasons which I expect to be sorted out shortly" or something like that.
Obviously, if you've had an accident or severe illness and are in hospital, you probably can't communicate with them (except perhaps by mobile phone?), but you could get a friend to do so for you.
Best wishes,
Jenny


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The Misha
Local time: 14:27
Russian to English
+ ...
We are always at fault Jan 29, 2009

Regardless of what the law says or whose fault it really is - because we are in business for ourselves. Imagine ordering a burger in a restaurant that arrives uncooked or burned - because the proprietor's mother had died and he cried a river into your food. You'd just go to another restaurant next time, right? It's not fair, but that's the way it is. If it bothers you, get a job.

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