A Freelance Translator's Contract From a report by Alan Rafael Seid Llamas in the May/June issue of Notis News of Courtney Searls-Ridge's "Contracts and the Freelance Translator" workshop
What is a contract?A contract is a written or oral agreement between two or more parties to do or not to do something. A contract is considered to be legally binding. The obvious advantage of a written contract over an oral contract is that there is tangible documentation of the agreement should there be a dispute.
A contract involves:
- An offer
- An acceptance of the offer
All offers are revocable prior to acceptance. There must be formal acceptance in order for the offeror to be bound to that offer. It is a good idea to include duration in a contract.
A contract does not need to be very formal. Less formal contracts may be better when:
- Writing the contract will take longer than the actual work to be done
- A very small amount of money is involved
- You think the other party might be intimidated or put off by a long, formal contract.
A contract can take the form of a simple checklist or letter stating the essential points of the agreement. At the end you can add something like: "If this meets with your approval, please sign both copies."Here are some other points to consider in contracts:
The written contract should include:
- A contract should be in writing whenever possible.
- An agreement regarding translation and interpreting services does not have to be written (as opposed to a contract in real estate) unless it covers a period spanning one year or more.
- Written contracts are more easily upheld in court than oral contracts.
More issues to consider including in your contract:
- The date
- The identities of the parties
- The subject matter
- Time (duration or deadline)
- Ownership of glossaries created during a job
- Reimbursable expenses, especially if very high
- Advance for high-volume projects
- Terms of payment. When will you get paid, how much, and what does the payment cover?
- Work other than translation, such as proofreading
- Deadlines. There must be agreement.
- Revisions. If a client comes back to a translator with the demand to insert someone else's revisions, the translator may want the right to remove his name from the document if the revisions do not seem suitable.
- Cancellation fees
- Royalties. They are not easy to get and often not worth the trouble.
- Disputes are more likely if agreements are only oral.
- Misunderstandings are not necessarily intentional.
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