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May I ask for compensation?
Thread poster: lea-orli

lea-orli
Germany
Local time: 08:58
German to Russian
+ ...
Dec 16, 2009

Hallo,
I have following question: Somebody asked me if I would translate a text, and after clarifing some details I confirmed. The translation should be done in 2 days, after the 1st day he wrote to me, that smb else had made the translation for him, although he didn't recieve any feedback from the person to whom he also sent a request. So may I ask him for compensation and if yes, can it be the half of the sum, as I already have made the half of the text?
Thank you for help!
Elena.

[Edited at 2009-12-16 22:30 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:58
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, if you were definitely given the go-ahead to do it Dec 16, 2009

Preferably with a Purchase Order.

This happened to me once, and the agency paid me for the work I had already done without any argument.


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 02:58
Spanish
+ ...
Who confirmed? Dec 17, 2009

Hi Elena,

You said that you confirmed but did your client confirm the project too? Sending the file and the instructions doesn't constitute a confirmation. But like Jack said, if your client gave you the go-ahead, you deserve to be paid.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What might have happened Dec 17, 2009

You have to be careful. Often a project manager will put out feelers to more than one translator asking about availability. More than one, including yourself, may "confirm". In this situation you must wait for the definitive go-ahead since the job may have already been given to someone else. Does this sound like what might have happened?

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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:58
English to Czech
+ ...
Yes Dec 17, 2009

If you received a go-ahead as mentioned by Claudia and Jack, I would ask for a compensation for the part I have translated.

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lea-orli
Germany
Local time: 08:58
German to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all of you for the help! Dec 17, 2009

Follows happend: He sent the request to 3 people (as he told me afterwords), but nobody except of me answered him. We changed several e-mails clarifing details. At some point I wrote him, that I will do the job. He didn't give me any answere, but since he had asked me how he could pay to me (after I had told him my charge) it looked like he wanted me to do the job. At the same day he told me he recieved the translation from somebody else, although he was changing e-mails only with me.
It looks like only I reacted on his request and he didn't give any confirmation to anybody.
So, I think he shouldn't accept the translation from another person, but from me.
He told me, I shoudn't worry, he would sent next time to me. But I'm not happy with that...
What do you think?


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:58
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
I don't think you have a case Dec 17, 2009

From the way you describe it, there was no definite commitment by him to employ you as the translator. The email exchanges you had with him do not constitute a definite order,
so I don't think you can claim for the work.


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lea-orli
Germany
Local time: 08:58
German to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's right, but.... Dec 17, 2009

Thank you Jack, I understand what you mean. But still the person who sent him the translation didn't get a confirmation from him too. So he doesn't have to accept it, does he?
And since our "relation" was the most large one, he should let me to do the job further.
Although it could be right, that he didn't give me the confirmation either, so he doesn't have any obligations to me. But on the other level, I think he should give the translation to me since I was the only one who answered him.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:58
French to English
Compromise? Dec 17, 2009

lea-orli wrote:
So, I think he shouldn't accept the translation from another person, but from me.

What do you think?


Well, I am not 100% sure that the client definitely agreed with you to do the work (although he was probably going to) - but equally I am fairly sure that the client agreed nothing whatsoever with the other translator either.

I suggest that you suggest that the client splits the payment between you and other translator as a compromise.


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xxxAguas de Mar
Sorry to be so candid, but... Dec 17, 2009

lea-orli wrote:
Although it could be right, that he didn't give me the confirmation either, so he doesn't have any obligations to me. But on the other level, I think he should give the translation to me since I was the only one who answered him.


...If you do not have a PO, or other document in writing asking you to do the translation, you are in very shaky grounds, no matter what you or us might think. There are no obligations arising from the time he spent talking to you or from the number of people who answered him or not. I recommend you take a good business course before embarking into more projects like this, otherwise you might get real disappointed with the results.


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lea-orli
Germany
Local time: 08:58
German to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 17, 2009

Thanks a lot to all who gave me the advice!
I understood my mistake - so I think it was very good, that this happened to me - I learned something very important from it.
Wish you all the best!


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:58
German to English
+ ...
culpa in contrahendo Dec 17, 2009

Aguas de Marco wrote:

lea-orli wrote:
Although it could be right, that he didn't give me the confirmation either, so he doesn't have any obligations to me. But on the other level, I think he should give the translation to me since I was the only one who answered him.


...If you do not have a PO, or other document in writing asking you to do the translation, you are in very shaky grounds, no matter what you or us might think. There are no obligations arising from the time he spent talking to you or from the number of people who answered him or not. I recommend you take a good business course before embarking into more projects like this, otherwise you might get real disappointed with the results.


Note: I am reacting to the comments above, not giving specific legal advice here.

1. I agree with Aguas' assessment of the shakiness, even though there is no need for a document (Lea-Orli already exchanged more e-mails with her client than I usually do), simply because it is hard to prove anything without documentation; but the e-mail correspondance is there.

The original communication from the client (agency) is usually viewed as an invitation to make an offer. The translator then makes an offer, which the client then can either decline, accept (the contract is then concluded), or modify (which usually turns it into a counter-offer). This can all be done without any documentation whatsoever, e.g., on the phone--it may be hard to prove, but a contract concluded this way is nevertheless valid.

2. I disagree, however, that there "are no obligations arising from the talking[...]." Actually, there are obligations that can arise during negotiations, even if a contract is never concluded.

Most legal systems recognize claims based on "culpa in contrahendo," i.e., negligance in the course of contracting or a fault prior to conclusion of the contract that supports a contractual cause of action for damages (admittedly, this is usually regarded to be a tort under common law, but they are obligations nonetheless).

I obviously cannot know whether or not any of this actually applies to Lea-Orli's situation, since I don't know the whole story, i.e., I haven't seen the correspondence. Good luck!


[Edited at 2009-12-17 14:06 GMT]


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xxxAguas de Mar
Just a clarification Dec 17, 2009

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

2. I disagree, however, that there "are no obligations arising from the talking
Actually, there are obligations that can arise during negotiations, even if a contract is never concluded.

Most legal systems recognize claims based on "culpa in contrahendo," i.e., negligance in the course of contracting or a fault prior to conclusion of the contract that supports a contractual cause of action for damages (admittedly, this is usually regarded to be a tort under common law, but they are obligations nonetheless).

I obviously cannot know whether or not any of this actually applies to Lea-Orli's situation, since I don't know the whole story, i.e., I haven't seen the correspondence. Good luck!


[Edited at 2009-12-17 14:06 GMT] [/quote]

Hi Derek,

None of us can know exactly because we were not there during the conversations. But please note that I was referring to the TIME spent talking, and the number of people who actually answered the client's request, not to the matter of the talks.

A client could spend hours talking to a translator about rates, method of work, prospective contracts, even their private lives, etc., and still no obligation might arise from all those hours of conversation. Now, if the client did say something to the translator that lead him or her to believe he/she should start working on an assignment, how can this be proven, if needed, if there is no document and, I assume, no recording of the talks? You are right that in many countries, an oral contract is a valid instrument. What is problematic is to present evidence of an existing oral contract. E-mails exchanges can help, but not in all cases, I am afraid.

My point was that, as businesspersons, we need to be very careful of the interactions we get into, in order not to get scalded. I know we all learn by mistake at some point or other in life, but why not avoid this type of learning if at all possible.

In Spanish we have two sayings that come to mind in these cases: "No dar paso sin huarache" (something like to take not even one step without a sandal on one's feet), and "la burra no era arisca, los golpes la hicieron" (the donkey was not skittish, it became so after the beatings).


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lea-orli
Germany
Local time: 08:58
German to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Are there obligations or not? Dec 17, 2009

Thank you for the lawer-advice, Derek Gill Franßen!
Actually, I still think, on some level, there are obligations on him (though it's hard to proove). In my last e-mail before I started the translation, I told him that I was going to start it. But he didn't answere me anything. But because we changed some e-mails before and he never told me, that any of my conditions is not good for him, so it looked like he wanted me to do the job - so I started the translation. Do you think he is obligated?
Sure it would be better if I would had waited for his agreement...


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:58
English to Czech
+ ...
There may be some chance Dec 18, 2009

In my last e-mail before I started the translation, I told him that I was going to start it. But he didn't answere me anything.


If you made your client aware that you were going to start working on the translation and the client never replied, this might be, at least under Czech jurisdiction, understood as silent consent.

Anyway, I will never get down to work unless I receive a final go-ahead and a PO.


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