1300 003 077

Why a Consulting Contract is Essential for your Consulting Business

A consulting contract is an agreement between a professional advisor and a client. A consulting agreement is an essential tool for consultants and can make all the difference when it comes to claiming variations and getting paid.

A consulting contract can be as straightforward as a fee proposal with terms and conditions, or it can be a long and complex agreement that incorporates several documents. Either way, it is important for professional consultants to make sure they have a written consulting contract that protects their business and, just as importantly, their bottom line.

online law firm

Author: Farrah Motley, Director of Prosper Law and a commercial contract lawyer.

A consulting contract sets out the rights and responsibilities of the parties

Scope of services

A scope of services defines what a consultant is going to do for the client, in exchange for payment. It is important for a consulting contract to clearly describe the consultant’s services in a way that is clear and unambiguous.

consulting contract

For example:

  • if the consultant has allowed for a specific number of meetings in the fee, the number of meetings allowed for should be clearly described
  • any value management services (including any limitations) need to be outlined so that the client is getting value for money, but the consultant is not doing extra work for free
  • the extension of any reporting or status updates should be described; for example,
  • whether weekly or monthly reports are required and the format of those reports

Claiming variations

Claiming variations is not always straightforward for professional consulting firms. There is a tug-of-war between:

  • being competitive and providing fair pricing at the risk of quoting too low and squeezing profit margins; and
  • quoting too high and losing a prospective project to a competitor

Because of this, it can be tempting to agree to a variation clause in a consulting contract that is too restrictive and difficult to comply with. If a variation clause is difficult for a consultant to comply with:

  • it may not be possible to submit a variation claim within a short time frame Clients may refuse a variation claim on the basis the scope is already included in the fee
  • or does not amount to a ‘variation’ under the terms of the consulting contract
  • the project may be completed, but the consulting firm make not make any profit
  • the consulting firm may end up doing more work for the same price

The best way to ensure that a variation is able to be claimed and is payable in a fair way is to negotiate a consulting contract that is fair.

consulting contract

A consulting contract can define the scope of services

A poorly defined scope of services is undoubtedly a common cause of scope creep. To avoid scope creep, it is important to ensure that a consulting contract includes a specific, unambiguous and detailed scope of services.

A consulting agreement that has a well-written scope is beneficial for both the consultant and client. This is because both parties will know what they are signing up for at the outset and will have an agreed, presumably objective scope of services to refer to.

A consulting contract can be relied on by a consultant to get paid

No matter what industry a consulting firm works in, getting paid can be a challenge. If a consulting firm doesn’t have a written contract in place with a client, it can be very difficult to prove an entitlement to payment or even that there was a contract in the first place.

A consulting contract can be relied upon by a consulting firm as evidence to prove that:

  • there was an agreement for the client to pay the consultant
  • the consultant has satisfied any relevant preconditions to claiming payment
  • the client has not paid the consultant according to the agreed payment terms

A consulting contract describes who owns intellectual property

Professional consulting firms are generally selling intellectual property to their clients. That intellectual property might take the form of copyright that subsists in:

  • architectural drawings or engineering drawings
  • written reports or proposals
  • designs
  • presentations
  • photographs, sketches, paintings or artworks
  • music and sound recordings

Or it might take the form of design rights in clothing and apparel designs.

consulting contract

Whatever the intellectual property, it is important to appropriately describe who owns the intellectual property.

It is also important to describe what conditions must be satisfied before ownership in the intellectual property rights transfers to the client or is licensed to the client.

A consulting contract is a means through which a consultant can sell, assign or licence intellectual property.

How can Prosper Law help?

Prosper Law’s legal services are provided by Farrah Motley, an Australian lawyer that provides legal advice to professional consulting firms, including reviewing, negotiating and drafting consulting agreements.

Contact the team at Prosper Law today to discuss how we can provide you with a review of a consulting contract, including contract reviews and negotiations for a fixed fee or at affordable hourly rates.

Farrah Motley | Director

PROSPER LAW – Australia’s Online Law Firm

M: 1300 003 077

E: enquiry@prosperlaw.com.au

W: www.prosperlaw.com.au

A: Suite No. 99, Level 18, 324 Queen Street, Brisbane, Queensland Australia 4000

Check out some of our latest blog posts

Consulting Contracts – The Best eBook

Consultancy Agreements

online law firm

Contact an Australian Business Lawyer Today.

Contact us for a free consultation

Lead Form - Hero Section - Header (#6)

Contact us for a free legal consultation

Lead From - Sidebar

About Prosper Law

We provide legal advice to business and individuals across Australia, no matter which State or Territory you are located. Our easy-to-access, online legal services mean that you can talk to our lawyers wherever you are, at a time that suits you.

Need Legal Assistance?

Don’t hesitate – reach out for your free legal assistance today. Your peace of mind is just a click or call away!

Check Out Our Latest Blog Posts

The options for workplace investigation outcomes

The options for workplace investigation outcomes

Workplace investigation outcomes are the actions taken by an employer in response to the outcome of a workplace investigation. Employers may need to take several steps to address misconduct allegations,

Witnesses & workplace investigations – a legal guide

Witnesses & workplace investigations – a legal guide

In workplace investigations, the testimonies of witnesses frequently serve as a key part of the investigation. Often, witness statements and interviews will have a significant impact on the outcome.These firsthand

Unfair Contract Terms & Small Businesses

Unfair Contract Terms & Small Businesses

Unfair contract terms create an unreasonable imbalance of power between contracting parties. Australian law prohibits unfair terms where a party to the agreement is a small business.As of November 2023,