How to get paid when you did not sign a contract?
Thread poster: Valérie Martel

Valérie Martel
Canada
Local time: 05:55
Member (May 2018)
English to French
+ ...
Dec 4

Good Morning everyone,

So I mostly work with agencies, who make me sign a contract when I start working for them, and I never had a problem getting paid.

I never made my direct clients sign contracts, because "I know them" (I know it's not an excuse, and I've learned from my mistakes), and they always paid me well and on time. So when I was approached by a new direct client with a very interesting project, I said yes and jumped on board without making them sign a contract. Now, they owe me money since last day of October. The good news is I still have contact with them. They keep apologizing for the delay, etc.


My question is: without a contract, is there anything I can do?
Everyone keeps telling me I should charge a late fee, but I feel like I can't legally do that without a contract.
And yes, I do have a contract template ready for my next clients.

Thanks everyone for your advice,

Valérie


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Contracts Dec 4

Contracts don't have to be written in a formal contract document to apply. If you have emails or other messages from the client clearly accepting your offer and asking you to provide the translation, it would be sufficient in many jurisdictions to prove the existence of a contract.

If nothing has been agreed about late fees, you can only apply them if statutory provisions stipulate that you can do so. This is for example the case in the EU.

You can report such problems in the Proz Blue Board, but I would advise waiting 2-3 months to avoid that the client gets your feedback taken down, as they can otherwise simply contest the quality of your translation. Also, it is not allowed to use the Blue Board to put pressure on a client.

It may be time to go ahead with more formal debt collection procedures now.


Matthias Brombach
B D Finch
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are you sure you don't have a contract? Dec 4

Valérie Martel wrote:
So when I was approached by a new direct client with a very interesting project, I said yes and jumped on board without making them sign a contract. Now, they owe me money since last day of October.

Do you not have an exchange of emails where they asked you do do a certain job, you agreed on a rate for the job and on the payment terms, and they told you to go ahead with the work? That constitutes a legally binding contract just about everywhere in the world.

The good news is I still have contact with them. They keep apologizing for the delay, etc.

They've clearly acknowledged that you did the work as requested, they received the invoice, they have no quality complaints, and they accept that they're late paying. It follows that you have no problems at all - apart from that of getting your money out of them icon_smile.gif. You would have absolutely no more rights if you'd had a contract with all the "whereas" and "hereby" etc wording; your rights are 100% intact. In fact, you're in a far better position - seeing that you're still communicating with the client - than if you'd had a 20-page, signed-in-blood contract with some fly-by-night concern that never intended paying.

So, why has the client not paid? Are they having serious cash-flow problems? Is so, have you checked them out to see if they're in real trouble? Most countries have their companies' register online, accessible for a fee. Have you checked their online reputation? Maybe they act this way with all their suppliers as some companies do seem to believe it's a legitimate business model.

What you do now depends on many things. Your respective locations; the sum owed; their financial status; ... Sooner rather than later, whatever else you do, I'd suggest that you:
- Warn others by giving the company a poor review on the Blue Board here. If they don't have an entry, set one up first.
- Send a final demand by registered mail with proof of delivery being returned to you by the post office. That's a good grounding for any legal process as it proves they're informed of the debt.

After that, if payment fails to arrive, you'll need to think about whether you want to go the debt recovery company or small claims court route. But hopefully it won't come to that.


Sandra& Kenneth
Dan Lucas
Teresa Borges
Michele Fauble
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
B D Finch
Njanja
 

Zeineb Nalouti
Tunisia
Local time: 11:55
Member (Nov 2018)
English to French
+ ...
JOB ORDER Dec 4

Hi Valérie,

It's not always easy to make clients sign a contract, yet it's usual practice to ask for a job order or job confirmation before starting translation. I personally ask my clients to send me a formal written "acceptance" of the terms and conditions already discussed and agreed upon.
IMO, it's a good thing you keep communicating with your client, it means they have no intention to swindle; also, a late fee may jeopardise your future collaboration.

Good luck!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
There's something missing Dec 5

Valérie Martel wrote:

So I mostly work with agencies


What came before the "so"?

There's something missing from your post (your description of the reason why you mostly work with agencies).

[Edited at 2018-12-05 10:29 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Behave! Dec 5

Tom in London wrote:
What came before the "so"?

Get wiv da times, bro.


Gareth Callagy
Sheila Wilson
Michele Fauble
Njanja
 

Valérie Martel
Canada
Local time: 05:55
Member (May 2018)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Dec 10

Thank you everyone for the advice!

I have sent another (more formal) reminder to the client. The payment is now 1 month and a half late. The reminder was friendly, yet firm. I will keep you all posted!

Keep up the good workicon_smile.gif


 


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