• Employee law
  • October 18, 2016

What contracts do I need as a freelancer?

By Lawbite Team

Talk to a Lawyer Free Legal Help
Getting a contract signed before you provide services should be a priority for any freelancer or consultant. A contract protects you by setting out your obligations clearly and reducing the risks of a misunderstanding with the client. Without it, you are relying on a verbal agreement, which is unlikely to be the same agreement in the minds of both parties, or cover all of the issues. The contract should contain all the terms that apply to the services while allowing for flexibility and a process to make changes if necessary.

Services: Setting out the services to be provided and the standards required avoids confusion about what is to be delivered. It reduces the risk that the services will increase without a change to the price or timescales.

Responsibilities: Consider who is responsible for each part of the project and what each party needs to provide. If you’re providing your own equipment, set this out. This is helpful to show that you’re self-employed.  You may want the client to provide you with access to its property and documents, and respond quickly to your requests for information. Setting out the client’s responsibilities ties them to those obligations.

Time frame: Any milestones or time frame for the services should be made clear, with a process for dealing with any slippage or adding extra services during the period of the contract.

Payment: Make clear what payments are due and when, the process for making the payments and what happens if they are not paid on time.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property: Define both parties’ obligations in relation to confidential information and what steps need to be taken to protect that information. Make clear who will own any intellectual property relating to the services and when will this transfer. Most intellectual property rights will remain with you unless specifically assigned to the client. Consider whether you want to retain any rights to use information about the services in your future marketing.

The end of the contract: How can both parties end the contract? Is the contract for the life of the project or will it continue until either party gives notice to the other party? Without a notice period, you may be in breach of contract if you try to end the contract early (unless the client has breached the contract badly). Make sure you can also end the agreement if the client does not follow the contract or their business gets into financial difficulty.

What happens after the contract ends: If there are any obligations after the contract ends, for example, to make certain payments, include these in the contract.  Don’t leave it to chance that these will happen.

Self-employment/IR35: The contract can help show that you are self-employed for tax purposes. The key factors that decide your employment status (or whether you’re outside IR35 if you provide service through a limited company) are whether you decide how the services are provided (and you aren’t under the control of the client), whether you have to deliver the services personally and whether the client has to offer you further work and you have to accept it. The contract should confirm your status and make these things clear.

It’s worth a contract lawyer reviewing the contract before you sign it if you have any concerns. They can check that the contract covers everything, and that there aren’t any unusual clauses or terms that could cost you a lot of money in the future if things go wrong.

Louise Paull - LawBite Employment LawBrief. For further legal advice, you can contact Louise via our online legal advice portal.

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

Related Articles

Read more of our latest blog posts, featuring all the latest legal news, analysis and opinion from our expert lawyers.

blog image
  • By Lawbite Team
  • November 10, 2020
Have You Inadvertently Committed Furlough Fraud?

The Government’s Job Retention Scheme (or furlough scheme) has ensured that many people who would have lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic...

Employee Law, Coronavirus
blog image
  • By Lawbite Team
  • May 11, 2020
Employee Dismissals During The Coronavirus Outbreak

With the Coronavirus lockdown now heading into its eighth week, all employers are taking a hard look at how they can best approach business continu...

Employee Law, Coronavirus
blog image
  • By Lawbite Team
  • May 01, 2020
Covid-19 - Guide to Furlough Staff

As the Covid-19 outbreak started to impact businesses across the country, employers have had to react to managing their workforces. To help busines...

Employee Law, Coronavirus

LawBite can help you

LawBite is on a mission to provide business legal advice that is easier to access, clearer to understand and much cheaper. Our on-line legal advice platform can quickly connect you with expert business legal advice. Our friendly, highly qualified business lawyers, solicitors and mediators will give you the guidance and reassurance that comes from customised legal advice for small and medium sized business.

Whether you are bringing or defending a legal claim, outsourcing work, want a business contract review to ward off disagreements, talk to an expert trademark lawyer, resolve a contractual dispute with methods like mediation and arbitration, or getting your new company set up and on the right footing with a robust shareholder agreement and GDPR standards, we can help you succeed.

defend a claim

Talk to a Lawyer

Book a Call
defend a claim

Essentials Plan