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Client not paying - can I stop the contract & withhold the work?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by thepixellator, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. thepixellator

    thepixellator New Member


    Hoping someone can offer some thoughts on a client non-payment issue....

    I am a freelance graphic designer who has been contracting on site with a client for over 6 months.

    Despite invoicing weekly, the client has been late (an average of about 40 days late) paying every invoice. To date, they owe me over £8,000 which is only increasing with each week I work for them.

    I have chased them but the excuse is always they are also waiting on late payments from clients.

    I have not enforced any late fee so as not to dirty the waters but now the situation is now becoming untenable for me and I need to work out the best course of action to take with minimal financial or legal impact.

    I'm considering informing the the client this week that I will cease working until all outstanding invoices are settled, which I believe I'm within my right to do.

    But, I think that they might ask me to hand over the work I've done to date, which I'm reluctant to do as this is work they've essentially still not paid me for.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Are there any legal implications of stopping the contract and withholding the work I've done so far?

    I have no written contract with this company. I was brought on by a former colleague and we only have email correspondence which states when I started working (and I do have time sheets I've submitted throught the course of the contract for the work).

    Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you
  2. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Your emails will stand as proof of contract, and submitting time and them agreeing to pay you the invoices is a contract. Even though they have not paid, you have it in writing that they agree to these payments.

    What I'd do is ask them to pay a percentage now to keep you going - and when they get their money they can settle your bill. If they cannot agree to this, then I would suggest that you down tools until you can reach some agreement.

    By all means, the artwork belongs to you, it's your IP, until they pay for you to release it to them.

    If all comes to all take them to the small claims court to get payment.
    Stationery Direct likes this.
  3. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Edit. Hank beat me.


    I must admit that I'm not good at putting contracts in place but this is a situation where one would be gold.
    Sounds a bit like they're giving you the run around for whatever reason.
    Longest I wait for payment is 30 days and that's only with a few clients.
    The fact that they're waiting for money to pay you is not your problem.
    Your agreement is not with their client, it's with them.

    Legally speaking (don't take as gospel) until you hand over the rights then all work still belongs to you as the creator.
    You hold the cards there for what it's worth.
    Contracts are there to protect both parties and without one they are not in a good place regarding getting you to hand anything over.
    They may have paid you bits here and there but they still haven't paid up so I'd give them nothing.
    No pay, No hay.

    I'd be firm and up front and take this up with them.
    Lay it out and ask for at least a part of what they owe you to proceed but I'd go for full as you said.
    This is totally fair and I'd release the rest of the work in stages as they pay you... or wait until you complete and you are paid in full.
    This is not in any way unreasonable to put in place anyway with any job but seeing as your faith in them is tarnished I'd edge my bets.
  4. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    It's not past someone to take the low-res artwork and have it printed. I still walk by that Cafe that has 8 x A0 prints hung on the wall, blown up from lo-res A4 with DRAFT across them.
    @GCarlD likes this.
  5. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    That's classic @hankscorpio. :D
  6. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Think I've posted this before but besides it being pretty entertaining for a kind of lecture, it has some REALLY good advice.

    ash likes this.
  7. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    Ha Ha, now that's funny! :ROFLMAO:
  8. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Haha, yes I remember this story lol. You got to give me the address to this cafe I need to pay them a visit for the :LOL:
  9. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    a 30 day turn around is 'normal' for paying invoices in a lot of companies, still doesn't excuse late payments but that should be considered on 'due dates'

    not your problem, your contract is with the client, not their clients and it's their job to maintain their finances and pay you. I've said this before and will likely say it again on this forum

    doesn't matter, you can claim them iirc upto 6 years later.... don't quote on time frame though.

    I wouldn't be so hasty, I'd go as 'high up' as you can and/or talk directly to the person that 'hired you' and say straight, I need to get paid, I can't live on nothing type of thing and gently remind them it's their responsibility to have the funds on hand to pay you when it's due not when they get it from their clients.

    grey area for me. One side is technically you're freelance so it's your work but at the same time you're on site so you're like a temp worker. You'd need to chat to a legal pro for this I'd say due to lack of 'defined' contract.

    As said above I'd suggest legal advice before decision.

    telephone calls, conversations and emails/letters can all constitute a contract in a court room. The emails should be fine in this respect, assuming it covers all the basic stuff like 'being hired etc'.
    hankscorpio likes this.

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