A client disputing a freelancer’s final invoice because its total is more than the sum envisioned when the work was priced up, based on an hourly rate and a time estimate, has been warned that a court would probably uphold it.
Having written in to the Financial Times’ Business Questions page, the client was told that their failure not to agree a fixed price, or terms relating to overspend, indicates that the freelancer would be entitled to be reasonably compensated for his services.
The answer, provided to the newspaper by law firm Kings Chambers, adds that even though the freelancer did not notify the client that the work required more time -- and therefore more charges per hour -- he was not contractually obliged to make such a notification.
“On that basis, the freelancer will be entitled to a reasonable sum for the work carried out – determined by what a reasonably priced freelancer would charge for the same work,” advised Eleanor Temple, a barrister at the firm.
“Given that only an hourly rate was agreed, a court might decided that a reasonable sum is in fact the hourly rate set out” at the outset of the engagement, and contained in an email between the freelancer and the client.
Addressing the questioner (the client), Ms Temple added: “Unless you have anything that records an agreement to pay a fixed fee for the work and in the absence of an instruction to let you know if the number of hours agreed is to be exceeded, a court would probably order the invoice to be paid”.
However rather than paying the total sum on the final invoice, said to be 30% higher than the original estimate, the client was advised to “negotiate a settlement” that both parties will agree to and not feel aggrieved by.
Editor’s Note: Further Reading -