There are many contract templates out there for software development freelancers. However, most are written for the US jurisdiction, and are worded so as to be enforceable in a US court of law. Now, it's clear that most contracts do not lead to dispute, and most disputes are settled outside the court. However, it seems the value of a contract is as a deterrent against the worst-case scenario, e.g. a lawsuit in case the work is completed and the client refuses to pay. To be an effective deterrent, the contract surely needs to be written with appropriate legal language, which varies between jurisdictions.

Freelancers, how do you handle contracts for an international client base scattered through multiple jurisdictions? Do you just use a US template contract for each client, and hope for the best? Do you have a template for each country?


I have worked with clients all over the world - and as codenoir says, the only important factor in terms of location is to be clear about the jurisdiction the contract falls under. Eg, for England/Wales:

This Agreement is governed by the law of England and Wales, and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

That also means that you can use the legal language of your own country because the interpretation will be done in the jurisdiction of your own country.

However: I am a strong supporter of contracts that are written in plain English rather than complex legalese. If you don't understand what is written in your own contracts (and if your mother doesn't understand it) then it's probably too complicated. See also the Plain English Campaign


Write your contract so that the venue for any disputes is local to YOU. If not, the default jurisdiction if you need to sue is wherever the client is. In the case with international clients, this will make it really difficult for you because you'd either have to go to court there, or hire an attorney there, if such a dispute arose.

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