About contracts, terms and conditions
Singapore, 1st June 2010
In continuation of yesterday’s blog about “the difficult client” it is probably appropriate to elaborate a bit more on the contract, its terms and conditions, that we have with our client. First of all I don’t think there is such thing as a perfect or fool proof contract. Even if it existed it would probably be a few hundred pages thick. It is impossible to cover everything, specifically not the clients ‘wacky” thinking and tastes at time. If I like blue but the client like red I will have to deal with it, right? I can’t really put in my terms and conditions that the client has to accept my design regardless…the so called “my way or the highway” approach. Maybe people like Philip Starck, can command this kind of attitude and condition that into their contract, terms and conditions, but I certainly don’t belong in that category, I think 99.9% of the lighting designers don’t belong in that category.
We can control factual issues such as scope of work, quantities, frequencies and most of all build in milestones for approval in the project’s deliveries. These are critical to determine whether revisions or changes can be considered a re-design, additional work (billable with extra fees) or just simple modifications which are a normal part of the design process. These approval steps are critical also for the progressive invoicing of work. These are all quantitative and measurable things.
But it is very hard to build in protection against abstract and subjective issues, such as taste and personal preferences. That really is the client’s prerogative and part of our relationship as a designer with our client. However we do have the professional duty to make sure our designs comply with the related standards and safety norms. Only when these are breached by the client do we have the moral high grounds.
We are principally hired to satisfy our clients. If we can satisfy our selves in the process, we probably look back on the project with great pride and satisfaction.