Contracts with translation agencies
Thread poster: Shera Lyn Parpia

Shera Lyn Parpia
Local time: 07:40
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...

Sep 16, 2008

I was recently contacted by a translation agency and after some correspondence about my experience etc they sent me a contract to sign.

There are two paragraphs which say that in case I make a mistake my liability is unlimited. They also say this is a standard contract. I would like to hear about your experiences with contracts.

This is one of the paragraphs:

In case of delays in submitting the completed translation referred to above and in case of faulty work, negatively affecting the quality of the translation or if the service does not satisfy the minimum requirements described above and the Agency is required to correct the translation at its own cost, it may reduce the fee due to the translator on an equitable level, on the basis of the time and means required to carry out the correction, not excluding damages in excess (of the sum due).
The translator will be subject to penalties or will lose the right to payment. Futhermore, s/he will be held responsible for damages caused to the Agency as a result of the faulty work.

Now, while I am happy to accept responsibility for my own mistakes, I do feel that there should be a limit to the damages the agency - I can't accept liability for unlimited damages!

Thanks for any light any of you can shed on this.


KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:40
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Propose limiting damages... Sep 16, 2008

... to the value of the contract or if you have special translator's insurance coverage for certain categories of client loss propose those limits (but be very sure that you set the scope to match your coverage!)

This, of course, is not legal advice, just a commonsense suggestion. For legal advice, consult an attorney or your local translators' association.


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It goes without saying Sep 16, 2008

Shera Lyn Parpia wrote:
Futhermore, s/he will be held responsible for damages caused to the Agency as a result of the faulty work.

Take a black pen and a ruler and draw a neat line through it, and sign in the margin. If the client queries this, tell them that you have no problem with their right to sue you for damages, but that you don't think that it is necessary to state the obvious in the contract. Surely the client can sue for damages whether it is written in the contract or not. So, why have unnecessary stuff in the contract?

I suspect many agencies put things in the contract not to be contractually bound to it but simply to bring it to translators' attention.


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:40
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
limit it to the max of the amount of the contract Sep 16, 2008

Imagine somebody dies because of a bad translation on a 50 word warning label or something, or they print 500.000 full color brochures with a horrible spelling mistake..
Ka-ching!, the agencies comes back with the bill !
The agency should be liable for this, they are responsible of checking your translation in the end, not just mail it to their clients.


You can get a 5.000.000 euro liability insurance and add the costs of your monthly insurance payments to your invoice to the agency : WIN-WIN situation here!

Ed Vreeburg
French/English -> Dutch


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:40
English to French
+ ...
That's not a standard contract Sep 16, 2008

I believe the people you are looking to work with are starting out really badly by being dishonest with you. A standard contract limits your liability up to the amount owed to you for that job by your client (and not the amount paid to your client by their client). So, if you do a $20 job and completely mess it up, the only thing your client can do is refuse to pay you the $20, even if the damages on the client's end may amount to thousands of dollars.

Trust me, the contract you were sent is far from being standard. Please, don't sign it!


Shera Lyn Parpia
Local time: 07:40
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...

Thank you all. Sep 16, 2008

Your replies confirm my instinct - I have written them saying that I cannot agree to some parts of the contract they are proposing, and want to modify it. They told me it was a standard translator's contract. I wonder how many translators read through the pages of small print. Let's see if they still want to work with me. I can't put myself at such risk although I think it may only be theoretical.
Thank you all for your replies, it's great to have the support.


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