Drafting A Service Agreement – What You Must Include
If you are a service provider, read on to learn how to make sure your Service Agreement protects you legally and establishes your rights and responsibilities effectively. When drafting a Service Agreement, be sure to do the following.
Be Specific about the Work You Will be DoingThe first item you must include in a Service Agreement is the scope of the services you will be providing. You must specifically outline what you are planning to do, how long it will take you to do it, and who will be the legal owner of the finished product.
When it comes to freelance work, ownership rights are particularly important. If you finish a job and maintain ownership rights of the finished product, the client will not be allowed to modify the product in the future. If your client obtains ownership of your work after you finish, they will be legally able to modify it whenever he or she wants.
Include Payment TermsBefore you even start working with a client, you must make sure your Service Agreement clearly outlines your payment terms. You must specify if and when mid-project payments should be made and what the legal consequences will be if the client fails to make the payments on time.
If you are going to be working on a lengthy project, you should consider breaking the project into smaller, billable sections. This will help ensure you do not put a lot of time and effort into providing a service for a client that ends up refusing to pay you, which happens more often than most people would think.
Specify When and How to CommunicateIf you are an experienced service provider, then there is no need to tell you that some clients need more attention than others do – and some clients might take over your nights and weekends if you fail to specify in the Service Agreement when and how they may reach you. One way to manage this effectively is to charge a rate for after-hours emergency calls so that you can be compensated if a client abuses your time.
Include a Way to Get Out of the DealIf a relationship with a client goes badly, either you or your client may want to terminate the contract. This is why the Service Agreement must include information about what events will lead to the termination of the relationship and what are the rights and responsibilities of the parties.
A well-drafted Service Agreement should address issues such as emergencies or serious illnesses that might impose a sudden termination of the contract. Being specific about the way the relationship should end will prevent disputes from arising in the near future.