by Jodee Redmond
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer (and I don’t even play one on TV). Please consult with an attorney to get the appropriate legal advice for any concerns you may have.
A contract is an agreement that is legally enforceable under the law. In order to make a contract valid, certain requirements must be met:
Both Parties Must Agree
If there is no agreement, then the contract is not valid. Each party must behave in a way that indicates they accept the terms of the contract. In a situation where someone signs a contract but secretly has no intention of living up to its obligations, that person can still be held legally responsible for what they agreed to do. In this situation, appearance is what counts.
Consideration Must be Present
In a contract, consideration is the idea that each person agrees to do or give something to the other. The freelancer agrees to provide a certain service (write “X” number of keyword articles) in exchange for a certain amount of money to be paid by the client.
Each person signing the contract must be legally competent to do so. This means that a contract entered into with a minor or someone who is not of sound mind due to physical condition or mental illness or disability is not valid.
A contract requiring one person to do something illegal is not valid.
A contract does not have to be in writing to be enforceable. Only a few types of contacts, such as those involving buying and selling real estate must be written in order to be valid.
Breach of Contract
If either party doesn’t perform his or her duties under the contract, the injured party can sue for damages. If you complete the work as ordered and don’t get paid, you can sue the client to get the money owed to you.
As a freelancer, you need to understand that if you fail to deliver the work as promised, your client can sue you for compensation or ask the court to order you to perform the work you agreed to do. This is known as specific performance.
If you don’t have a formal written contract with a client, it’s a good idea to send an e-mail to them once you have been hired confirming:
- the type of work you are to do
- how much you are going to be paid
- how payment will be made
- when you can expect to receive payment
This communication can be used as a way to back up your claim for payment if there are issues surrounding the work or getting paid later on.