Intellequity, is a business law firm located in Portland, Oregon that can help negotiate, draft or advise on your service agreement. I am an experienced business law and contract attorney that can help you navigate the pitfalls of these specialized documents and help minimize the risk that a misunderstanding will arise; a misunderstanding that could lead to needless and expensive litigation in the courts. Read below for more information on service agreements, why one might be beneficial for your business, and how Intellequity can help.
What is a service agreement?
Service agreements specify the details related to the provision of services between a service provider and a client, outlining the nature of the services, timelines, payment terms, and more. A service agreement, or service contract, is a written agreement between a service provider and a client (which could be an individual or a company) where the provider agrees to render specific services in exchange for payment from the client.
Key elements of a service agreement often include:
Description of the Services to be Performed:
This defines the scope of services the provider will offer, such as the tasks involved, deadlines or milestones, and any outcomes or deliverables expected.
This may include performance standards or measures that the service needs to meet.
Detailing how much the service provider will be paid, when payments will be made, and any terms related to expenses, invoices, and late payment penalties.
If applicable, a service agreement may have a confidentiality clause to ensure proprietary information remains secure.
The conditions under which the agreement may be terminated by either party, either willfully or for breach.
The agreed-upon process for settling any disputes that arise, which could include negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.
Having a well-drafted service agreement provides protection for all parties involved, ensuring mutual understanding of expectations, timelines, and payment details while also providing a legal framework for resolving potential disputes.
Why might my business enter into a service agreement?
There are several reasons why a business should enter into a written service agreement:
A written service agreement clearly sets out what is expected from both parties in terms of the scope of services, performance, timelines, and payment, reducing the risk of future disputes and confusion.
A written contract provides legal protections for both parties. If one party does not fulfill its obligations under the agreement, the other party can seek legal remedies.
Clear and Understood Payment Terms:
Specifying the details of the payment in the agreement guarantees the service provider gets paid as per the agreed terms and the client is clear on the cost and terms of payment.
Reduce Litigation Costs:
Written agreements often include terms about how to resolve disputes, which could be through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration, providing a predetermined route for dispute resolution. This can negate the need for costly litigation!
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Protections:
Service agreements can (and should) include clauses to protect sensitive business information or intellectual property rights. This is especially critical if the service involves access to proprietary business information or development of intellectual assets.
A written agreement demonstrates professionalism and seriousness about the business relationship. It shows commitment and can build trust between the parties involved.
In many instances, verbal agreements can be difficult to prove and enforce legally. A written agreement, on the other hand, provides a clear record of the terms agreed to by both parties.
For all these reasons, despite the ability to enter into informal or verbal arrangements which may seem easier, cheaper or faster, a written service agreement is crucial for protecting your business and ensuring a smooth, clear business relationship.
Why should I hire an attorney to negotiate, draft or review a service agreement?
Hiring an attorney to review a service agreement brings a number of benefits:
Attorneys have the training and experience to understand complex legal language and can help you make sense of all the terms and conditions of a service agreement.
Protecting Your Interests:
Attorneys will check to see that your interests are being adequately protected in the agreement. This includes aspects related to service deliverables, payment terms, dispute resolution, termination of the agreement, and more.
Spotting Unfavorable Terms:
Attorneys can identify any terms or clauses that could put you at a disadvantage, or that are unfair, ambiguous, or potentially harmful.
Compliance with the Law:
Attorney's can help ensure the agreement complies with all applicable federal, state and local laws.
Lawyers have negotiation skills to secure favorable terms for you. They can also provide you with advice on what points you may need to compromise on and where you need to stand firm.
By pinpointing areas of potential risk or liabilities, an attorney can suggest amendments to minimize risks and prevent disputes.
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Protections:
An experienced attorney can ensure that your service agreement offers sufficient protection for your sensitive company information or intellectual property involved in the service.
Having an attorney review your service agreement could save you from unforeseen liabilities, losses, or legal issues in the future. It's an investment that offers you peace of mind and security in your business transactions. Give us a call to learn more or book a consult below.