Template contract direct clients
Thread poster: Anna Hjalmarsson

Anna Hjalmarsson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2015)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 26

Dear colleagues, I have been approached by a person who needs help to translate a document, and I would happily render my services to her but have only worked with agencies so far. Might anyone have, or know where I can find, a template contract for situations like these (direct clients)? Any other recommendations?

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Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
offer and acceptance = contract Jan 26

Your email exchange is a contract:

- I want XYZ document translated. How much do you charge?

- £abc (= offer)

- OK. When will it be ready?

- Next week.

- Please go ahead. (= acceptance = contract is formed)

At that point, I just ask for the invoice address.

With longer-term direct clients, I have set up framework agreements. But for "a document", I'd consider it overkill (unless it's a £2k+ file). Excess paperwork can be very offputting.
I don't have to sign contracts when I hire e.g. a plumber or electrician - and they don't even have the written exchange, only verbal agreements.

Having said that, if you Google "service contract" you'll get a good range of hits, such as https://www.upcounsel.com/service-agreement
Starting with that, I'd maybe throw in a few words about rendering the service to the best of your knowledge and belief, a limitation of liability and your payment terms.


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Anna Hjalmarsson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2015)
English to Swedish
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TOPIC STARTER
Direct clients Jan 26

Thanks a lot for that! I am a newbie and all you say (write) makes perfect sense. Thanks again!

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:17
Member (2007)
English
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You can have a contract full of legalese, but you don't have to Jan 26

Diana Obermeyer wrote:
Your email exchange is a contract

I've always gone along with that too. I'm quite fussy about making sure I have the main details in writing, and that the client actually knows I'm now going to start work on their job. That constitutes a legally binding hire. You then also need to get their confirmation that they've received the translation. I always insist on getting that the first time for a new client. I tell clients they need to confirm every time as it's part of my QA procedures, but most of them forget. Still, once you're into repeat business you can rely on the passage of time - if they don't ask where it is and don't complain, then they're by default happy! The only other essential bit of paperwork hopefully won't be needed - the final demand you send by registered post if they don't pay after several reminders. That's the third bit of proof for the courts, but I'm sure you won't need that .

The only client I've ever sued was one of the very few who actually made sure I signed a contract. I stupidly signed it without checking every last word (it was many years ago). It was for a teaching gig and when the student cancelled the course after several lessons, my client said the only way I'd get paid was to finish the hours in another town, different hours, etc, etc. I refused and the court eventually ruled the contract clause to be unfair ! So don't rely on a contract, even when you're the one who has set it up. I've only ever signed 10-12 in 20 years, and never one of my own making. I've refused to sign a good few more, mind!

The main thing is to do due diligence and check out the client before you start working with them. There's a Wiki in the Education area of this site that covers risk management. If you can't find much about them then you can always ask for an advance deposit (say 25 or 30%) or even get 100% advance payment. I wouldn't do the latter for a B2B contract personally as businesses expect to pay on account, but I (almost) always ask for 100% for a first job if the client is a private individual.


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Anna Hjalmarsson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2015)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Direct clients - contracts? Jan 26

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Diana Obermeyer wrote:
Your email exchange is a contract

I've always gone along with that too. I'm quite fussy about making sure I have the main details in writing, and that the client actually knows I'm now going to start work on their job. That constitutes a legally binding hire. You then also need to get their confirmation that they've received the translation. I always insist on getting that the first time for a new client. I tell clients they need to confirm every time as it's part of my QA procedures, but most of them forget. Still, once you're into repeat business you can rely on the passage of time - if they don't ask where it is and don't complain, then they're by default happy! The only other essential bit of paperwork hopefully won't be needed - the final demand you send by registered post if they don't pay after several reminders. That's the third bit of proof for the courts, but I'm sure you won't need that .

The only client I've ever sued was one of the very few who actually made sure I signed a contract. I stupidly signed it without checking every last word (it was many years ago). It was for a teaching gig and when the student cancelled the course after several lessons, my client said the only way I'd get paid was to finish the hours in another town, different hours, etc, etc. I refused and the court eventually ruled the contract clause to be unfair ! So don't rely on a contract, even when you're the one who has set it up. I've only ever signed 10-12 in 20 years, and never one of my own making. I've refused to sign a good few more, mind!

The main thing is to do due diligence and check out the client before you start working with them. There's a Wiki in the Education area of this site that covers risk management. If you can't find much about them then you can always ask for an advance deposit (say 25 or 30%) or even get 100% advance payment. I wouldn't do the latter for a B2B contract personally as businesses expect to pay on account, but I (almost) always ask for 100% for a first job if the client is a private individual.


Thanks for your valuable input! Very much appreciated!!


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Jean Dimitriadis
France
Local time: 00:17
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
ITI's model terms of business Jan 26

Hello Anna,

Since you are in the UK, I suggest you take a look at ITI's Model Terms of Business. They are available in PDF online, try searching for "iti.org.uk model terms"

I based mine on SFT's recommended terms & conditions for language service providers (France) - https://www.sft.fr/fo/public/menu/gestion_front/index&id=484

At one point, the terms make it official that "The Client agrees to consider faxes, e-mails, copies, and computer files as equivalent to the original and valid proof that the order was confirmed."

I also include a link to my terms in my invoices: "Applicable Terms of Business unless otherwise explicitly agreed: URL".

I don't think an agreement is necessarily overkill, even for one document. It can save you from a number of complications, which I find more off-putting than the trouble of signing an agreement. Anyway, it is only done once, the rest happens via email anyway, if you are to collaborate again in the future.

Jean


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:17
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with Diana and Sheila Jan 26

For a simple job involving a direct client, the e-mail exchange *is* the contract.

I would hope that, given that this is a direct client, you are getting your money before you are delivering your work. (This is the only way I do business with a direct client [i.e., unless it is a law firm or established business].) With such payment arrangements, you are more or less fully protected, and would only need recourse to a written agreement if the customer has some complaint about your work (which is why it makes sense to throw in some language about doing the work "to the best of your ability," as Diana has suggested).

[Edited at 2018-01-26 15:44 GMT]


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Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
I actually just saw ... Jan 30

... that there is a template service agreement on ProZ.
It's under "Tools" > "ProZ.com tools".


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Anna Hjalmarsson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2015)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Lots of good advice in this thread... Jan 30

..which I thank you all a lot for!

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