Your rights

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A contract need not always be a signed document, although, by definition, a letter is likely to be a fixed statement of words with a signature at the bottom.

Any contract requires ‘offer’ and ‘acceptance’ with ‘consideration’ in order to be binding. ‘Offer’ and ‘acceptance’ are self-evident but

Consideration’ means something of value that has been transferred from one party to the other, in order to validate the contract. If you are offered some work on the telephone, for example, and then write back to the client repeating what has been said, stating that you are about to start work on the project and adding the phrase ‘just to confirm our discussion’ then you will have a binding contract. The consideration will be the work you have done in exchange for the promise of money. If you are constantly receiving oral offers of work it is probably a good

 Idea to have a stash of these ‘confirmation in writhing’ letters all ready to send off when required. Bear in mind, however, that you cannot unilaterally impose terms- you can only repeat and reiterate whatever exact terms you and the employer agreed over the telephone. Any new terms you add into your letter (‘I have for weeks to finish this work’ when no time scale has previously been mentioned. For example)

Well only be legally binding if the employer writes back to you confirming this period of time.

Remember that the terms of a contract work both ways. If you make a written offer in a letter, then you may well be held to the terms of this by the recipient. If in any doubt, you can always head you letter at this stage in the negotiations.

Your signature at the bottom of a letter confirms that it is definitely you who is making the offer or the acceptance, and not an agent. Once you have signed, you have a legally binding document, so consider your signature a valuable commodity and do not abuse it.




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