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What is a contract?
Contracts are legally binding agreements. They can be in a formal written legal format, or in letter form, or they can be verbal. Although they do not have to be signed or witnessed, it is advisable to get each party to a contract to sign one original, in order to confirm the agreed used by other designers, and get hold of a standard-form contract that you can adapt for your own business.
- If you make an offer that is accepted, a contract has been made. If the offer is rejected, there is no contract.
- If you make an offer and withdraw it before it is accepted, there is no contract.
- If you make an offer, you cannot withdraw it once the other party has accepted it unless the other party consents to the withdrawal, since a contract has been made.
Contracts are used in order (among other things) to:
- Provide a clear record of what has been agreed, between whom, and when.
- Show that the parties all understand the terms.
- Define rights, liabilities and responsibilities.
- In particular, stipulate delivery dates, prices, payment terms (and the consequences of breaching those terms).
- Make the ownership of work clear, and protect moral rights and copyright.
- Make sure that you include all order, commission, project and client details in the
- Even if you agree something verbally, it can amount to a contract, but never rely on this, and never assume. Always put contracts in writing.
- When in meetings, or on the telephone, make notes of what you are agreeing, and follow up in writing.
- In order to have proof that a contract exists, ask all other parties to sign and return one
- Always read carefully contracts written by someone else. If you are unsure about or disagree with anything, do not sign.
- If you sign a contract and then sign another to replace it, it is likely that the most recently signed document applies. Make that clear in the paperwork.
- Always keep a copy of signed contracts for your records.
- If you commence work on a project, that probably implies that you have agreed to the terms and conditions, so clarify all terms of the contract beforehand.
- When using selling contracts or consignment notes, always clearly list in an appendix the items that you are referring to, and include prices.
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