Mastering freelance contracts with help from Charipickers

Struggling to make a great freelance contract? We know just the experts to help.
In our previous article on the topic, we went through many of the essentials in writing your freelance contract and answered some basic questions such as Who should write the contract? and What are the steps to follow in case of conflict? Now, let's take another dive into contract writing and talk about confidentiality, intellectual property and more.
Essential information
If you're looking for a place to start, Ian and Eszter from Charipickers shared some of the essential information your freelance contract needs. And what is a contract? It is a statement of your rights and obligations and it clarifies the proposed agreement with the client. According to statistics, 49% of freelancers always use contracts, while 12% never do.

Any claim for breach of contract or failure of delivery needs to be proven, and your contract is the place to lay out all the rules of the assignment. Stating them properly will help you defend yourself in case of a claim.

- Company details

It needs to be clear which parties are engaging in the contract. All your company's details, including your address, need to be included in the contract.

- Assignment description

Describe what the task is and what is required of you and your client. If the client makes a claim against your work, this is where you will be able to show what your duties were.

- Rate/fee

This is your payment – how much and for what time period. Ian goes into more detail on which payment option is the best in our previous article.

- Invoice and payment terms

State how you will be paid and include any details such as interest rates for late payments. If you're struggling to find a simple and powerful invoicing solution, see how Xolo can help you here.

- Delivery timeframe

When does the work start? When do you need to deliver the project? What are the main milestones and when do they need to be done? Specify that in the contract.

Protecting yourself against liability

Many things can go wrong in a project, either due to your error (we're all human!) or a force majeure circumstance outside of your control. This can lead to a financial claim from your client, damage to your reputation, a legal procedure, or at worst – your bankruptcy. This is why apart from the correct rules and stipulations outlined in a contract, you need to think about insurance. (You can read our full article on insurance here).

A contract can be based on either an obligation of conduct or an obligation of result. The first is the safer option as it states that you will simply endeavour to achieve a particular result. The second one is more dangerous as you take full responsibility for achieving a particular result, so be careful which one you choose.

You can be insured against civil liability and professional liability.

Professional liability insurance covers issues relating to the loss of data and professional errors.

Civil liability insurance protects you against material damage on-site or physical harm to clients.

It is also crucial you talk to your client and agree to a maximum liability amount in the contract.

Read more about avoiding liability in Ian's previous article.
Confidentiality is not one-sided however with the client protected and you unprotected. You need to discuss:
What is confidential information and what is not?
What happens if a necessity to expose something arises?
Who can I share it with?
What happens when the contract ends?
What will the consequences be if any of the above is breached? Will there be penalties?
Intellectual property (IP)
The issue of ownership is important. If you create something for your client, it is likely they will get ownership of the asset. It is also possible for you to retain the rights to your work, but that may lead to lower pay. IP is important for creative freelancers like graphic designers and artists, and the exact terms of the assignment need to be laid out in the contract.

You can learn more about protecting your IP rights in Stan De Vocht's session below:
Force majeure
Force majeure circumstances are "unforeseeable external circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract." Including a force majeure clause in your contract will protect you in case of extreme emergencies, which prevent you from fulfilling your duties.
Notice period and early termination
If for any reason the freelance assignment needs to be terminated prematurely, the notice period needs to be clearly stated in the contract. The rules on contract termination and payment need to be aggregated upon too.
Find out more...
There's a lot more that Ian and Eszter shared with us - you can learn more about mastering freelance contracts in the Contract negotiations for freelancers chapter in our Freelance Business Book. Get your free copy here.

To learn all about protecting yourself against fake independence, following GDPR, insurance, conflict procedures and more, read our previous contracts article.

Ian also gave a fantastic masterclass on the topic, which you can see here, or you can see our upcoming masterclasses and rewatch our past ones (on investing, websites, virtual assistants and more) here.

Ian shared so much valuable information we couldn't fit all of it here. Learn whether it is legal to work with a client without a contract, how to manage the intellectual rights over your work, how to terminate a contract and what is the best notice period and more in the full free masterclass here.
About Charipickers
If the chance to tap into a vast, on-demand talent pool for your organisation sounds attractive, get help saving time and money with Charipickers, who will optimise your external hiring strategy. They are specialists in freelance contractual and legal matters, working with organisations and freelancers to advise both on the best ways of collaboration. Access expert contract management, sourcing strategies and more here.

Learn more here.

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