Mobile menu

Cancelation of a contract
Thread poster: Attila Piróth

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Apr 2, 2007

Here is the situation:
Last year I undertook the translation (Hu>En) of a three-volume textbook for a German publisher. Separate contracts were signed for each volume.
I have just finished the translation of the first volume and I would like to cancel the translation of the third volume. This is in line with the author's preference, who would like to involve another translator, to accelerate the progress, and to have the books published more quickly.
The contract is quite concise, and says nothing about this possibility. A paragraph is included stating that if the translation is not satisfactory, and the translator is not willing/able to correct it, the retranslation cost can be deduced from the fee (up to a certain amount), and then the contracts for the subsequent volumes can be cancelled either by the publisher or by the translator. Apart from this, the last paragraph is of particular importance: This Letter of Agreement shall be deemed to be made under and shall be interpreted in accordance of the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Before entering in any negotiation with the publisher, I would like to find out what the law - most importantly, German law - says in such cases. Can anyone help?
Kind regards,
Attila


Direct link Reply with quote
 

megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just a comment... Apr 2, 2007

If you signed separate contracts for each book and you have not started working on that book, I think there's not much to discuss...

The project was the translation of a whole book and the editor suggests to translate just half or a third or... 10 pages of it because he prefers to have 2, 3, 10 translators working together.

Under any law, this is a modification of the purpose of the contract which makes it not valid (I hope you have at least a description of the purpose in there?).

Imagine that this contract includes your pricing for a high volume job and finally you receive 3 pages of 300. It looks like it's not the same thing!

Therefore you can start discussing a new contract, or cancelling it.

Best luck!

Ruth @ MW



[Edited at 2007-04-02 13:56]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Three parties involved Apr 2, 2007

Hi Ruth,
The situation is not exactly what you have understood. It is not the editor (publisher) that proposes this modification but the translator.
There are three parties involved: author, translator and publisher. The author and the translator have not signed any contract with each other - only with the publisher. But they work together: the author, who masters the target language, proof-reads the translation.
The reason for canceling the contract is that the author has put considerable pressure on the translator to start working on a manuscript of the 2nd volume that is not 100% finished. The publisher agreed with the translator that this is indeed not common practice. The translator refused to accept the unfinished manuscript, but as a compromise, proposed that he is willing to cancel the contract for the third volume, so another translator can start working on it before volume 2 is finished, and so the whole process can be considerably accelerated. The author agreed on this.
The publisher has been informed about this.
Now I (translator) want to discuss the possibilitis with the publisher. If they agree simply, then great, no problem. But what if they are reluctant?
I suppose my motivation for cancelling the contract is fairly clear - but if not I can add some more details.
Attila


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:33
German to English
+ ...
comment Apr 2, 2007

I'm no legal expert, but from your description it strikes me that you have no formal relationship with the author (i.e. no contract). If you so desire, you could thus tell him to take a flying leap, since his only formal relationship is with the publisher. (I presume it is the responsibility of the publisher to provide you with the MS(s) to be translated). In any case, you should be within you rights to refuse to work on a draft version (and/or charge more or extend the delivery date), although from the sounds of it your contract does not say anything about this.
If the editor is sympathetic to your position, he or she may be willing to cancel the third contract. It would certainly help if you could suggest one or more translators who could take over the work (since that will probably be the editor's biggest problem).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Three parties involved - part 2 Apr 2, 2007

Hi Ken,
The situation is quite unique. I know the author in person, he would have taught me at university had I chosen a different field of physics. It also means that we have quite a few (ex)colleagues in common, which makes the situation quite delicate.
Cooperation started fine, as communication worked well. When something was not clear, he was ready to rephrase it or explain why it is clear.
However, when it came to proofing the translation it was nothing I am used to. He rewrote significant portions, increasing the volume by over 15%. He also put me under quite a lot of pressure to have the work finished ASAP.
I think I was quite understanding: I decided to finish the first volume and then clarify things, even if this meant working overtime (sometimes until 2 or even 4 AM), and to chalk it up to experience.
So, when the first volume was finished, I explained what should be improved, and asked his views on our cooperation.
And then, as if I had written nothing, he told me that the first third of the second book was ready, and I could start it - and the rest would be ready well before I would get there in the translation.
Up to this point the input of the publisher was not necessary, but here I felt they have to intervene. I asked their opinion and they confirmed that it was their common practice to accept only 100% ready manuscripts, and would leave 12 month for the translation.
Even though the publisher took a clear position, I could not convince the author of the necessity of separating the work of the author (finishing manuscript) and the translator (starting translation). The good spirit of cooperation is, at least, partially gone, which makes this project less attractive than initially.
Seeing that the author is very eager to have his books published ASAP, I proposed to cancel the contract for the third volume. And so, here we are.
It should be added that the contract says delivery in January (2007, 2008, and 2009), however January 2009 for the third volume seems impossible. Also, it states 3 times "about 600 pages"; the first volume was over 700 pages. The publisher has agreed to top the initially agreed amount (details are to be confirmed; they are evaluating the manuscript now). Nonetheless if I cannot cancel the contract, it means that the project won't be finished before summer/autumn of 2009. Neither the author nor myself would be pleased with this solution.
The author also said he would find other translators for the third volume. (Even if I had a candidate I am far from sure that I suggest him/her: the project can be very interesting for someone working in the field of physics but certain conditions are not perfect.) But I, for one, would definitely prefer to cancel the contract before a fourth party is involved.
So, the question remains: does German law have anything to say about such a situation? The work is far from being started, one party that signed the contract would like to have it canceled (perhaps both - but then there is no real question), and this is also the preference of a third party: the author, who is involved pretty much in the whole affair.
Any tips?
Attila


Direct link Reply with quote
 

RWSTranslation
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
difficult Apr 2, 2007

Hello,

in my opinion the legal situation ist so complicated, that onla y German lawyer can give you the right answer. But where is the problem to ask your publisher. In most situations it is the easiest way for all parties.

Ask them by phone then there is nothing written for later use.

Regards

Hans


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
English to German
+ ...
Contact the publisher Apr 2, 2007

The normal procedure for me would be to explain this situation to the party which signed the contract with me - in this case the publisher.

I see that this is a delicate situation, but nonetheless I don't see an easy way out of the contract. At least none that would only require you to declare that you are no longer part of the contract.

As I see it the best way would be for you to cancel the contract by mutual consent (i.e., the publisher agrees to cancel the contract). If that should not be possible, you will have to contact a lawyer, I'm afraid.

(Before making any further moves it may be a good idea to forward the contract to a German lawyer, who could at least estimate how good your chances are to get out of the contract if a mutual agreement cannot be reached. This should not be too expensive. Isn't there a German lawyer on Proz?)

Sonja


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
I am as blind legally as anybody else here... Apr 2, 2007

... when it comes to legal questions, but there's one point I can make.

There's a legal principle (which I unfortunately cant name by name but just rephrase), which states/implies that "the two parties involved in the contract are ready to stick to the spirit of the contract, even when the conditions change".

Now, in the case discussed, the publisher wants to do it, and so does Attila. Where's the problem? I may be blue-eyed, but both parties involved do want to bring out the book.

Conditions did change, but the intent did not. And that could be the starting point for the renegotiations.

smo

PS: if somebody quotes the legal name for the principle mentioned above, I would appreciate.

[Edited at 2007-04-02 20:14]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:33
German to English
+ ...
further comment Apr 2, 2007

Hi Attila,

You have my full sympathy. It sounds like you've hooked up with a professor of the old European school, who firmly believes that professors enjoy a status only marginally below that of divine beings, combined with the proverbial egocentricity of authors. He's also conveniently ignoring the fact that you have a contract with the publisher for a certain quantity of work.
As noted, I can't give any legal advice, but I can suggest that a strictly legal route is likely to be messy, complicated, and possibly expensive. It also seems to me that alarm bells should be ringing with the publisher, at least if he has a proper understanding of the situation, as it sounds like the actions of the author are seriously jeopardizing his publication schedule.
From a strictly legal perspective, what you need is some sort of binding agreement with the author, which at minimum stipulates that he has to pay for any rework you have to do due to actions on his part. This might lead to a rather messy legal situation (triangular relationship), but it could be a way to get your author under control.
My suggestion would be to discuss this with your editor -- give him or her all the facts, explain your situation and your concerns, and try to work together with the editor to arrive at a feasible solution, which may involve cancelling or amending the contract for the third book (surely that would be possible by mutual consent of both parties). As it stands, it sounds like the situation is heading for disaster -- you can do superhuman work for a while if necessary, but not for two or three years continuously.
Incidentally, I don't see anything wrong in principle with doing the translation 'in parallel' with the writing (i.e. in instalments) instead of waiting for the complete manuscript, but this demands rigorous discipline on the part of the author, as otherwise you can expect a significant amount of rework -- and judging by what has happened so far, that would almost certainly hold true in this case.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
With whom is your contract? Apr 3, 2007

Attila Piróth wrote:
Last year I undertook the translation (Hu>En) of a three-volume textbook for a German publisher. Separate contracts were signed for each volume.
I have just finished the translation of the first volume and I would like to cancel the translation of the third volume. This is in line with the author's preference, who would like to involve another translator, to accelerate the progress, and to have the books published more quickly.


Your contract is with the publisher, not with the author. So unless the author can convince the publisher of his wishes (or unless the contract between the author and the publisher is of such a nature), the author can't do anything.

In my country, any contract can be cancelled at any time, as long as all parties involved agree to the cancellation. Even if a contract makes provision for penalties in case of cancellation, that contract can be cancelled without the penalties applied, if all parties agree to it.

Cancelling a contract may bring about additional costs to some or all of the parties, which need to be agreed upon by them (in writing is best).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:33
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Talk to the publisher, and put your feet down Apr 4, 2007

It seems that your personal connection to the author has backfired on you, big time. You wrote you had already notified the publisher about the situation, which was the best you could do, IMHO. It looks like having direct communication with the author without the publisher being involved does not work for your benefit. I think you exhausted your options with the author, so the best is to put the publisher back in between you and the author - where they belong anyway - and have them deal with this.

I know I am not helping with your original question, as I have no clue about Germal contract law, but it seems to me that every contract contains at least 3 basic things: #1. the description of the product/service, #2. the agreed price and #3. the delivery date.
Now, it seems that at least one of these (#3) will not be achievable; another one is no longer valid (#1 - over 700 pages instead of 600, the manuscript is not the original at this point), and #2 is being renegotiated. So, it seems to me that the original contract is no longer valid, at least not with the original conditions. That validates the need to renegotiate the contracts regarding the subsequent volumes, and the renegotiation process may result in cancelling the contract altogether.

From your point of view, you need to decide whether you really just want to cancel the 3rd volume, or you would be willing to work on it if the circumstances were reasonable?
If the latter, then you should create a list of your conditions ASAP, which I guess would include things like:
- the translator accepts only 100% finished manuscript FROM THE PUBLISHER (no direct sending of manuscripts from the author)
- translation deadline is 12 month (or whatever is reasonable) from the date the translator receives the manuscript from the publisher
- any changes to the manuscript by the author must go through the publisher and the translator only gets involved if the publisher approved the changes, and the necessary adjustments of deadlines and compensation had been agreed
- communication between the author and the translator is limited to clarification of terminology, etc. necessary to carry out the translation ifself.

Stuff like this, adn these would apply to the 2nd volume as well.
These would prevent at least most of the problems you had (changes on the fly; uncertainty whether the publisher would pay for the extra work, and how much if any; communication problems with the author - well, tha fact that he ignored your complaints and basically took advantage of you).

I think it is in the best interest of the publisher to look into the situation and either renegotiate the terms (of the contract with you and probably of the other contract with the author, but that doesn't concern you), or alternatively, let you out of it.
A disgruntled, overworked and underpaid translator may not produce the best quality, and that is bad for everyone involved.

I certainly wish you good luck, and hope it will work out for you.
Katalin

[Módosítva: 2007-04-04 00:56]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Talked to Publisher Apr 4, 2007

I have just phoned the publisher, and he was quite understanding. He seems to be ready to cancel the contract for the third volume, and to add amedments to that of the second, concering the role of the publisher to mediate between the translator and the author.
I would like to thank you for your support and advice.
Most of Katalin's suggestions were clear to me, but her posting helped me to impose them more easily.
It may take some time until the changes are implemented, but I will let you know about the outcome.
Kind regards,
Attila


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
the legal principle I mentioned above... Apr 5, 2007

is named salvatory ~ (like salvatory clause). Seemed like it worked, even if it was not put down on paper (g).

It usually turns up in legal documents together with severability (sigh) issues, which (again) in this case were applied in a (hopefully) sensible way.

All the best, Attila.

smo

PS: how did I come up with the name? Honest, it came back just before I woke up this morning (the wonder of the human brain).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Contract canceled Jun 28, 2007

Finally I have received the written agreement on the publisher's part to cancel the contract.
They were not very keen on it, as they were pleased with the quality - so much so that they sent the MS directly to printing, without a single modification. On the one hand this is flattering - but on the other hand completely incredible: it means that not even a proof-reader (let alone a conscientious copy editor) went through the text. Needless to say, I have found a few typos in the galley proofs, shich will be corrected – but I am absolutely sure some will stay there.
Thanks again for your help
Attila


Direct link Reply with quote
 

cecilia galiena  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:33
English to Italian
+ ...
Contract with a publisher/author Jan 23, 2011

Hello everybody,

And I hope this is the right thread.

I have been following this thread very carefully (although it is a past one...something similar could still happen, right?) as I am being contacted by an Italian author to translate a book he wrote. He is a scientist and has an institute that takes care of his scientific developments, publications etc. While he waits to get a go-ahead from his board (to ok my bid), he tells me that the contract I would be signing is with his institution and his institution will oversee the translation (mine that is) in agreement with the publisher.

Is this something any of you who translate books experienced out there? That is: to go into contract with neither the author, nor the publisher rather with an institution that oversees the author's interests...So I guess ultimately my contract would be with the author...but isn't this a not so good idea? Shouldn't my contract be with the publisher? Do I even have a choice here?

I would greatly appreciate your input!

Cecilia


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Cancelation of a contract

Advanced search


Translation news





CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs