What type of contract
Thread poster: David Howard

David Howard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 7, 2017

Hi all,

Having been a freelancer for about ten years, I was wondering what contracts and documents people tend to sign with agencies and direct clients. I've noticed that some issue a new contract/PO with each assignment (I guess so they can be tailored to each project) and other asks you to sign a single contract at the beginning of the business relationship (plus an NDA), with POs to follow for each project.

What is standard/best practice in this area? What documents do you tend to have to sign?

Thanks

David


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:25
German to English
Blanket NDA common at the start of a relationship Dec 7, 2017

Most agencies I've worked with issue a general confidentiality (NDA) agreement with the first engagement. Generally these cover non-disclosure of end client material, revealing the names of end clients and forbid approaching an end client for a specified period of time. Some even prohibit naming the agency as a client. Other agreements specify quality measures to be used by the translator, such as a personal review of the document before sending it to the agency, running a spell check, etc. Some end clients also require the agency to issue a separate project-specific NDA. I won't sign anything that specifies liability beyond the cost of the translation.

 

Joohee Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 18:25
Member (2017)
English to Korean
+ ...
I agree with Kevin Dec 7, 2017

I agree with Kevin's opinion. So, the latter ("to sign a single contract at the beginning~") would be common.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My own experience Dec 7, 2017

I've been translating and editing for 10 years, and freelancing as an EFL trainer for another 10 prior to that. In 20 years:

- I've signed a fair number of NDAs, but nowhere near one per client. Often clients will send an occasional text that's marked as extremely confidential. The expectation is that I, as a professional, will not share any client information without prior permission.

- I've signed a handful of contracts produced by clients, mostly agencies. I've rejected many more out of hand or we've not been able to reach agreement on changes. I won't sign a contract that's loaded in their favour.

- I've had a handful of agency clients who send a PO for every job (in other words, most don't!). If they have a streamlined system that works 99% of the time then I don't mind. If (a) checking it is hard work, (b) there are often errors, (c) they expect me to be tied to details that I won't know until post-delivery, or (d) they expect me to delay invoicing until they come up with one - then I don't like POs at all. The relationship will normally fizzle out in that case.

- I've produced my own contract for a couple of direct clients, but I haven't done it for years now, even though in that time I've translated and edited books for direct clients.

I mostly just set out my T&C in a detailed email and get clients to expressly accept them in their reply. Direct clients are happy with that. So are my favourite agency clients, although there's sometimes some negotiation about payment methods and periods etc. Then they just send files; we agree on the price if it isn't just "more of the same"; then I deliver the work and send the invoice.

Bear in mind that an exchange of emails constitutes a contract; if you have any communication at all after delivery, apart from a "where is it?", then it's implied that they've received it; if they don't complain then they found it acceptable; if it's acceptable then you have a right to 100% payment; if they complain about quality or timing then you're still probably entitled to payment - but negotiation might be cheaper than litigation.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:25
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My two cents... Dec 7, 2017

NDAs and the like are a recent thing (10-15 years?). I’ve been around translating for over 30 years and I’ve been working for some long-standing customers without a single signed contract or NDA. On the other hand, I have a large folder filled with signed NDAs sent by agencies with which work never materialized…

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Standard vs. best Dec 8, 2017

David Howard wrote:
What is standard/best practice in this area? What documents do you tend to have to sign?

Standard practice these days is to make you swim in papers before you are even allowed to quote on a job. Best practice would be to simply sign a short NDA document.

When I look at my customer base, the quality of my clients (in terms of loyalty, fast payment, healthy deadlines, attitude of respect towards their providers) decreases consideraby as the volume of their preliminary paperwork increases. With a number of small but excellent clients, I do not even have an NDA, as they understand that I am a professional and privacy and quality are not at risk when I take care of a job.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
23 years here, and same experience Dec 8, 2017

Teresa Borges wrote:
NDAs and the like are a recent thing (10-15 years?). I’ve been around translating for over 30 years and I’ve been working for some long-standing customers without a single signed contract or NDA. On the other hand, I have a large folder filled with signed NDAs sent by agencies with which work never materialized…

NDAs and framework agreements dumping all responsibility upon the translator all began with the bigger American agencies and the trend has spread in Europe over the last 15 years or so. In an European context, companies did not feel the urge in the past to have you sign a pile of papers before they hired you, as they trusted that their professionals were responsible, trustworthy people by nature.


 

David Howard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I wonder if Feb 7

Hi all,

Thanks for the helpful replies and apologies for the time it's taken to respond.

After c10 years in the industry I largely have the same experience. The more complex the paperwork and processes, the more reluctant I am to work for the agency.

But I wonder if these documents and systems exists to support their sales pitch (as well as to dump responsibility on the freelancer). I once had a conversation with a sales guy from a big American company, and one of their selling points was the rigorousness of the recruitment process they had in place. They like to tell potential clients just how hard it is to become one of their "trusted" linguists.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:25
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
You could be right Feb 8

You could be right, David.

What they don't realise is that they're actually shooting themselves in the foot, because the harder they make it, the less likely they are to get anyone except the truly desperate willing to jump through their hoops.

I'm not 100% happy with my clientele, looking to diversify in that I'm rather too dependent on one client for regular work. However I'm not so desperate that I'm willing to do a long test, sign documents accepting full liability for any error and promising to deliver all work even if the deadline is impossible and so on and so forth, because the agency I'm over-dependent on is at least very reliable on payment.


 


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