Tool #6: Establishing your terms & conditions

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Terms & conditions are tailored to protect both the client and the designer during a working relationship. They are useful even for minor commissions as they establish points of orientation which help to avoid a working relationship turning sour.

When starting out, your terms and conditions might be few and rather simple. As your practice evolves and/or you get commissions that involve significant amounts of money (and risk), they will multiply and become more complex – to the point where you will want to get legal advice in order to establish them.

The US-based Freelancers Union suggests that terms & conditions should determine the following issues:

• What work will be done? What are the specific tasks to be completed? What are the deliverables? If applicable, include specifications such as format, quantity, size, colour, material to be used, etc.
• When will it be done? What is the timeline for the project? State when work will begin, and if there are specific milestones or deadlines over the course of the project. When and under what conditions will the final work be delivered?
• Who will do what? State what your responsibilities are and what the client’s responsibilities are. If your work is dependent on receiving materials or direction from the client, be sure to specify those dependencies.
• Where will it be done? State whether work will be performed on the client’s premises, and whether the client will provide specific materials or equipment.
• How will work be judged acceptable? State how and when the work will be considered complete.

Moreover, to maintain a smooth working relationship, it can be useful to ask your client to designate a primary point of contact who will be responsible for decisions and answering and resolving questions and issues.

Here a few examples of terms & conditions used in the UK.

Last edit: 19.05.2014