To begin with, there shouldn’t be any battle in the first place nor any “grumpy compromise” between the translator’s needs and those of the client. Clear communication is key to a good deal.
I’ve been motived to write this post as I’ve heard many translators repeating: “What’s the point of having my Terms & Conditions if the client’s T&C always prevail?!”
I’m not a legal expert and what I’m sharing is based on my experience and the legal advice I had.
As a general rule, Terms & Conditions are essential for your business because they:
✔️ Protect your business;
✔️Establish the actual arrangement between you and your client;
✔️Help avoid uncertainty and misunderstanding.
Things to remember:
1️⃣ T&C should be visible on your website or (if you don’t have one) included in email communications.
2️⃣ Visibility is not enough. The consent of the client to T&C is required in writing. Thus, you have to create an electronic system linked to the T&C form and be able to receive a confirmation or electronical signature from the other party.
3️⃣ When debating with another party over their T&C, pay attention to clauses about: terms of payment, liability, indemnity and applicable legislation.
4️⃣ B2C guarantees are different from B2B guarantees.
5️⃣ If you happen to have a professional indemnity insurance (which is recommended), make sure that it covers the country where your client is operating.
6️⃣ T&C can be registered either with a Chamber of Commerce or a Court.
At last, to answer the question “whose Terms and Conditions prevail?”, the following is what I learned from running my freelance translation business.
In legal terms and according to the Dutch law, which is similar to EU law, the party whose T&C were last circulated prevail. Suppose, for instance, that my standard payment terms stipulate that payment must be settled within 30 days from the invoice date. After an exchange with a client, I explicitly agreed in writing to their terms of payment within 60 days. Then, those last T&C prevail as the agreement took place before the substance of the contract was performed. Therefore, it won’t help to print the T&C on my invoice.
In practice, the answer to this question depends on the comparative power of trade, on your negotiation skills and the degree of your interest in collaborating with a specific client.