I am quite new to freelancing. I was recently hired for a fixed price job. After majority of work was finished, the client said he want to cancel the project because of some technical problems and my work is of no use to him. He has not received any work yet.

What should be the ideal thing to do in such case? I am planning to charging for the work that is already done. Is it appropriate or should I not charge him anything?

  • This is certainly appropriate: you worked for him based on mutual agreement, you deserve payment. You should try an amicable settlement first. If this doesn't work, you should send him a formal demand notice to be in a legal position to claim a compensation. What happens next will depend on the amount at stake.
    – user4521
    Jan 16, 2016 at 15:01

4 Answers 4


Situations such as these are frequently written into contracts. Colloquially, this is known as a "kill fee" (or a "cancellation fee") and it's actually standard industry practice (in the graphic design field, for example) to include such, especially for work that you can't use for anyone else.

You may have difficulty convincing your client of this, however.

In the future, you should always have a written contract and there should be a clause in there for obligations of both parties in the event of cancellation of the project.


If you are using some freelancing platform with money loaded into escrow, then you can get most of the money. I would ask the client about covering your costs as you should not be blamed for his decision on cancellation. Be polite and see what he means. Do not be rigid as he may leave you bad feedback.

If the money is not loaded into escrow, then you still have to ask the same question. If he's a nice client, he will offer to pay you for your work. If he is a bad client, you will not get any money.

If you are not using any freelancing platform, then you can refer to Voxwoman's reply and find the answer in your contract.


Were the technical problems part of your responsibilities for the project? If you have some culpability here, even to the point of not pointing out the components that you know wouldn't work, that will significantly limit what it would be reasonable to charge for.

Fixed-price does not have to mean a single payment at completion of the project. Ideally in these cases, your contract or statement of work would break out milestone deliverables and an associated payment schedule for them. This helps protect you from this exact situation and can actually help your client with financial planning and spreading the payments out.

If your client has received nothing from you and your contract does not cover this situation, you could talk to them to see if you could get a partial payment but I don't have a high expectation of success.


Many times these type situation arise on freelancing marketplace. Try to convince the client. For fix cost project. Always try to get some upfront.

  • Could you maybe elaborate a little more, Naresh? We're trying to build a Q&A site for everyone, and we prefer answers that cover more than a few sentences. Here's the link to edit your question.
    – Amelia
    Feb 8, 2016 at 8:44

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