Here are the things commonly found in most freelance project contracts. The actual items in the contract depend very much on the traditions of your particular industry and/or mutual agreement between the client and you, or your respective lawyers.
1. Statement of the Work: Things you will deliver, detailed in 1-2 lines.
2. Project Scope and Deliverables: Lists of things you will be delivering (coding, writing, designing, etc), How many (hours, words, etc), which format/location/size/color etc, how and where it will be delivered and set up, review/revision cycles, meetings etc, additional work (if any) and their pricing
3. Delivery: Date of delivery/project end date
4. Approvals: Criteria of satisfaction, client's approval over final product and intermediate stage needed/not needed, approval time frames (if any), what happens when clients fails to send approval on time, what happens when client doesn't approve, revision period/duration, how will additional questions/changes be handled, what happens when errors found after approval, etc.
5. Payment Structure: Upfront payment (depends on your industry), partial payment amounts and their due date/stage, payment/s due date/s, what happens when due date/s lapse (grace period, late payment fees etc),
6. Expenses: Are expenses included in the payment, or will you be reimbursed separately? If yes, when and how?
7. Non-compete clause: Some clients may want that you do not work with their competitors.
8. Ownership: Who owns the final product. For example, in the United Kingdom, all art is owned by the artist.
9. Warranties, representations, and covenants: These are the guarantees made by you, also making you liable to be sued for damages. These also cover things you expect the client to deliver (information, material etc) and these are covered under 'covenants'. Confidentiality, NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) etc are also covered in this section. Go through this section very carefully.
10. Term and renewal: How long the agreement will last. Is it renewable? Make sure you opt out after an agreement ends - in other words, the contract shouldn't renew the agreement after ending without your prior approval.
11. Governing law: Where it says which place's law will be applied to disputes.
12. Jurisdiction: In which place's courts will the disputes and suits be settled?
13. Force majeure: Basically, this section says parties will not be held liable for events beyond their control - disasters, natural calamity etc.
14. Superseding: This part says this agreement supersedes any other deal/communication between you, what's not here will not be accepted.
15. Termination: Details how and why the contract will be terminated. Common situations include nondelivery, nonpayment, warranty breach, or unacceptability of deliverables.
Look at the termination and find who does it favor most, and try to get to a balanced point (both share the risk equally), and that you understand grounds for termination completely. Know what happens to the payment. What about the upfront deposit or the payment received by you so far?
The termination section should also specify the notice period, and the medium (e.g. written notice), and also set out when the contract can be terminated immediately.
ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution): This should be part of a freelancer contract, as it suggests various approaches to settling client-freelancer disputes
- Mediation: A trained mediator helps the client and reach a settlement. The final decision is yours, though.
- Arbitration: This is more legal like, where an arbitrator, not necessarily a judge, looks at settling your dispute 'fairly'. This is expensive than mediation, you may need a lawyer. There are national organizations of arbitrators too (in the United States).
- Negotiation: Lawyers of the client and the freelancers sit as arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement.
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