No, you cannot just email the clients to advise them of a new late fee. The clients would have to sign a written amendment to the original written agreement specifying when and how much the late fees would be.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
I agree with Mr. Chen because I assume you are writing about a transaction that is not between "merchants" and because you intend your new policy to apply retroactively. If either of those assumptions is correct the answer is clearly no: You cannot charge a late fee simply by adding it to your invoice. In transactions between merchants, however, and with respect to new invoices such a late payment penalty may be lawful depending on all the circumstances of the transaction.
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I agree with the other attorneys
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