SAFREA welcomed Eitan Stern to 6 Spin Street last Thursday evening for the Western Cape region’s May event on contract law. Stern is the founder and director of Legalese, a creative legal agency designed to give small businesses and creative industry freelancers access to legal solutions.

SAFREA Western Cape event unpacks contract law

It was an unseasonably warm evening in Cape Town as SAFREA members and nonmembers trickled in, stopping first at the cash bar before grabbing a seat for the talk. 

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After giving a quick summary of the history of contracts and how they’ve changed through the centuries, Stern noted the mix of regulations and freedoms that make up contracts today. “Understanding the complexity of a contract means a better agreement for the freelancer,” said Stern. When creating a contract, Stern suggested keeping the following points in mind:

  1. Make sure you form a contract with every client: Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important not to let the size of the project or the relationship you have with the client intimidate you from creating a contract.
  2. Communicate your needs: It doesn’t help to form a contract that doesn’t address what you want.
  3. Make sure you and your client are on the same page: It’s important that you both have a clear idea of the same end-goal before drawing up a contract.
  4. Spot your value and protect it: This is most important. Figure out what you are worth (think: words, ideas, images) and make sure that each contract you form safeguards it by spelling it out.
  5. Write it down: While verbal agreements are indeed binding, they’re also difficult to prove. It’s best to have something in writing.
  6. Make the agreement with the right person: It doesn’t help to send your contract to the client’s dog sitter. Make sure the person you’re asking to review and sign your agreement has the power to do just that.
  7. Don’t be a jerk: If you deal with clients honestly and respect your side of the agreement, they'll be more inclined to reciprocate that respect. If you are constantly butting heads with clients, it may be time to ask yourself who's at fault. Could it be you?
  8. A mechanism for disputes: There are different ways to hash out problems if they come up. A mediator can be extremely valuable and cost-effective. You’ll need to decide if going to court is worth the trouble and expense.
  9. Prevention: The best way to avoid disputes is to set up great business relationships from the beginning. 

Stern closed his talk by reminding the audience that a contract does not replace a good working relationship. "It should be the end of a business process, not the beginning," said Stern.

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SAFREA Western Cape would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who joined us, and to our guest speaker, Eitan Stern, for delivering an exceptional talk. If you want to learn more about creating contracts for your freelance business, Legalese offers a special discount to SAFREA members. Learn more here.

We look forward to welcoming even more Safreans to our next event scheduled in June when Chris Roper from Code4Africa presents on: Using Drones and News Tech to Produce Kick-Ass Content.

Photo Credit: Morgan Trimble

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