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Drawing up a contract
Thread poster: Anne Key
Anne Key
Local time: 10:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sep 10, 2001

Hi there,

I recently decided to branch out on my own after 5 years working as an in-house translator, and am founding life as a free-lancer quite exciting.

I\'m currently in the process of starting a large translation project for a private client, and am obviously excited about the prospect of having 2 months\' worth of secure work with a private customer.

In order to protect my financial situation (i.e. avoid the likelihood of not being paid) I would like to draw up a contract, stating the basics (rates) as well as more complex issues (payment terms and conditions).

I\'ve worked with contracts before, but have up to now always been on the receiving end of them - I\'ve never actually drawn one up myself.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how best to go about things? I tried to find examples of job contracts on the Internet, but couldn\'t find anything relevant.

Thanks for your help!


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Jean Houwert
Local time: 11:06
Dutch to French
contract? Oct 8, 2001

Hello Ann,

You started for yourself, good for you! I wish you all the best.

As far as a contract is concerned, here is my two bits worth.

First of all, if your client has no intention to pay, a contract won\'t make much of a difference. So the first thing I would suggest is to check this client (the Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start), is it a known and sound company?

Second, speaking from experience, a contract can put the client off, sometimes insults him (what\'s the matter, doesn\'t she trust me?).

I hope this helps a bit.

Jean Houwert

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Daphne b  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:06
Member (2003)
Swedish to Greek
+ ...
Get some of your payment in advance Nov 20, 2001

Hi Anne,

I don\'t know how enforceable a contract is if your client has decided not to pay you at the end of the day... It is often suggested to draw up one, so I suppose it might work - if nothing else, it may put your client off if he/she doesn\'t intend to pay. However, I think that the best thing to do is to get some 30% or so upfront for large projects. Getting an advance payment is perhaps the only method to protect yourself from bad payers – not totally, of course, but to a certain extent. In this way, not all your hard work will have been wasted.

If you do decide to draw up a contract, one of your terms could be that you’ll deliver x pages/words, etc. after payment of x amount of money. In other words, you’ll deliver more pages when you have been paid for the ones you’ve already delivered. This is often done with literary translation and is perhaps feasible with technical projects. I did it once with a large project and it worked. The client can’t say anything since they have agreed with that beforehand.

As for a model of a contract, you can visit the ATA web page or see the one that Evert Deloof posted on proz some time ago (

Hope this helps,


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