Marketing: Legal issues

There are many legal issues to be aware of when setting up as a freelancer and it is worth taking proper advice before you start out - and also in the future if there are any areas of concern with specific clients or projects.

Some key issues which you need to be aware of are:

- Maintaining your copyright on all pieces of work created by you.

- Ensuring that you do not infringe anyone else's copyright by using their materials, content or images as part of a campaign without prior agreement.

- Personal indemnity insurance - this may or may not be required depending on the way your business is structured, but it is worth checking with a professional.

- Terms and conditions - you should create a set of these to email to prospective clients at an appropriate moment. These should include:

  • An hourly rate, a day rate and a reduced rate for a certain volume of hours per month on a sliding scale if you wish.
  • Your credit terms - 30 days is standard but as a freelancer, it's worth trying 14 and seeing if your clients will go with that. Some do and some don't!
  • Your mileage charges - the maximum allowed is 40p per mile, but 25p is industry standard and you can claim the other 15p per mile back against tax.
  • A note which states that all other expenses (train fares, taxis etc) are charged at cost 'with prior agreement from the client'.
  • What you charge, if anything, for cancellation of a specific day's booked activity and to what timescale - e.g. 50% if cancelled within x days etc..

- Non-disclosure agreements - often a client will ask you to sign one of these if they are going to give you access to confidential information. These are generally fairly standard but do read them carefully and make sure you abide by them.

- Understand the implications if you buy in services and sell them on with a markup. If you do this, you are technically liable for those services as 'the supplier' whereas if you simply put suppliers in touch with clients, then you are not. If the supplier fails to carry out the activity as agreed and there is a subsequent loss incurred by your client, you would be liable rather than your supplier.

Gill Taylor, Contract Marketing - freelance marketing support for all industries, with specialist IT-sector skills.

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