After working on a freelance Graphic Design project in New York for an individual wanting to start a magazine I had to return back to the UK for visa reasons. I did not manage to complete the project but the design was finished by the other designer I was working with. The invoice I sent was in last December and have been asking for it to be paid for nearly a year now.

The contract states that payment will happen within two weeks of the first issue of the magazine being put out, but his magazine project has failed and its not being printed. There is nothing in the contract about what happens in this situation yet the client continues to constantly replies to my messages telling me to remember the terms I signed off on in the contract. After regular reminders of the invoice the client is now saying I breached the contract terms by not completing the job, something that isn't covered in the contract, and now is saying he will get his lawyer involved. I want to go ahead with this, not for the money but so he can't think he can just screw people over, but worried about what legal standing I have? I don't want to get caught up in some court case, has anyone had any similar experience?

2 Answers 2


There is always a possibility of payment dispute when you freelance - especially if something is not successful. This is part of the "entrepreneurial risk" you should factor into your pricing.

Apparently you made the Payment dependent on the Project as a whole being a success. It was not - take it as a learning. In the Future only sign contracts to be paid in relation to delivery of the work and preferably billed by the hour.

If you have any legal standing can only be answered by an attorney familiar with you case and the local laws.

If it is not for the money I would not bother and write it off to experience. Life is to short to teach every jackass a lesson. Concentrate on the good clients, you´ll get further that way!


You aren't going to get your money back. Forget it. There's no possibility your client will pay without legal disputes. Unless you want to hire a lawyer, I think you should write it off for experience.

It's unlikely you'll be put into court, that was just a response for not paying. Everyone who failed to pay me in my career threatened me with something like that, but nothing ever happened.

Think like this? What would your client possibly get? Hiring a lawyer is very expensive, who would do it for a failed magazine? The project completed, you were never paid, the business already failed .... There is no motivation and incentive to put you to court.

  • Hi SmallChess, thanks for your reply. What you're saying suggests there is little chance I will be at the receiving end of some unfortunate legal situations, which was a big concern of mine. This makes me think I don't have much to lose in persisting if he's unlikely to actually hire a lawyer? I know its good to know when to quit but I'm not inclined to letting this guy just get away with it!
    – Harry
    Oct 10, 2017 at 17:32
  • @Harry As a professional, you're wasting your time. You get nothing, and I doubt the amount is significant. You might be taken into court for personal harassment (but not for the project!). Do this: take the client to court yourself or find a new project.
    – SmallChess
    Oct 11, 2017 at 2:18
  • You state that the payment is dependent on the magazine being published. That is what you signed up to. Well, it wasn't published. So the terms of the contract have not been completed. Next time get paid on a upfront retainer + predetermined deliverables. Oct 12, 2017 at 18:44

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