Legal documents / contracts

  ajm 00:32 14 Feb 2008

I am currently in the process of hoping to start my own IT consultancy business and wish to be able to see what legal documents/ contracts , ie contracts, terms of business , etc, look like and their formats. There are a few companies that offer these tyrpe of documents, but I really wish to avoid paying at this moment in time.

Are there any free alternatives?

  ajm 22:52 15 Feb 2008

Thanks for your advise. I know that there is no substitute for having a solicitor drafting the paperwork - but they seem to be expensive.

I have come across this click here and am wondering if anyone is familiar with this company

  Forum Editor 11:40 16 Feb 2008

between acting as an IT Consultant on an ad-hoc basis, and working for companies on contract, via an intermediary agency. If you're planning to do the latter you should be aware of IR35 click here

Otherwise, you'll require self-employment status, and apart from the necessity to register for VAT, and comply with all the relevant accounting and tax regulations, you don't have to have formal contracts with clients if you don't want to.

It's perfectly possible to work with and for people without a detailed contract - all that's necessary is an exchange of letters (or emails), outlining the terms of the arrangement between you. That in itself forms a contract, and as long as you've made it clear what you are going to do, and how much you'll expect to be paid (and when) you should be fine.

There are occasions when more detailed documentation is necessary, but that's only likely to be the case where there's a wider scope involved, or a longer term project.

If I take on a new client it's generally because someone else has recommended me, and I usually start things off with a briefing meeting. The client tells me what's required, and I follow up with a document outlining my proposals in general terms (never disclose too much until you are being paid), together with a fee forecast, or, if the job is straightforward, a fixed quotation. The client accepts in writing, and a contract exists. You can include specific terms and conditions in your original document, and they will then form part of the eventual contract.

Make sure you:

1. Make it clear that although you will take care to safeguard any client data it is the client's responsibility to make backups before you start.

2. Don't offer advice that may affect the conduct of a business unless you are completely confident. You may be liable for the consequences unless you include a specific disclaimer in your original quotation document.

3. Offer all business clients a confidentiality clause, confirming that you will not disclose anything of a sensitive nature to a third party. Many clients will beat you to this, and insist that you sign such an agreement in advance of even a briefing meeting.

4. Never undertake something unless you are confident in your ability to complete satisfactorily. Don't offer IT strategy advice unless you fully understand the implications for the client's business.

5. Be prepared to get called upon at all kinds of odd times, and be prepared to travel at very short notice.

I know you didn't ask for that kind of advice, but I thought it worth mentioning - I've been in commercial IT consulting for a long time, and I've learned about some of the pitfalls the hard way.

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