General Terms and Conditions, frequently referred to as “Boilerplate,” defines how the Client and Consultant will relate to each other in a business relationship without regard to a specific project. The following is a critical “Boilerplate” item that if not clearly and equitably stated will likely result in misunderstandings and confrontational situations:
Payment Terms – How and when the Consultant is to be paid for its services should be clearly defined in the contract. The length of time available to the Client to pay the Consultant’s invoice without penalty should be stipulated along with any penalty, such as interest on unpaid invoices, for invoices not paid within the allowable time.
If the Client is slow paying, don’t ignore this as it my be indicative of other problems. Try to find out what is happening with the Client causing the slow pay at the same time you provide a reminder that payment is due or past due.
If it becomes apparent that the Client is unable or not interested in paying the entire invoice, express sympathy and explain that your CFO will delay involving your attorney if the Client will agree to a payment schedule over some period of time. This would be conditioned on the Client providing predated checks, one for each time period. This accomplishes two things; the Client is acknowledging that you are owed the amount of the invoice and, knowing that you will be cashing the checks, moves the payment of your invoice to the top of the Client’s payment list.