Gaining Client Co-operation – Rather Than ‘Enforcing Rights’

A new client was having real issues with clients of hers who were not providing her with the facilities and equipment she needed to be able to perform her services on their premises.  In practice, she could not afford – either financially or for reasons of reputation – to simply refuse to provide her services, or to require them to be rescheduled.  She therefore often found herself having to simply cope as best as she could, despite the fact that this was not in either party’s interests.  The question she had, therefore, was ‘Is there any point in putting the requirements in the contract if I’m not going to be able to enforce them anyway?’

There were various ways we were able to help – and, as we always focus on prevention rather than cure, almost all were designed to make it much more certain that her clients would comply, rather than just to provide her with ‘rights’ if they didn’t.

To begin with, we designed our client’s documentation in such a way that the reasons for her requirements were set out clearly in her proposals.  By doing this, her clients were easily be able to see the potential negative impact upon the quality of her work (and hence the reduction in the benefit to they would derive from it,) if they failed to comply.

We also suggested practical measures designed to reinforce her clients’ commitment in their own minds.  These included amending her order form to include a list of her requirements – which the clients had to tick off and sign to confirm their understanding and acceptance of.  We also suggested telephoning clients the day before the services were to be provided to check that everything was ready for her – giving them time to sort out any last minute hitches.

Of course, the above practical measures were all backed up by contractual ‘obligations’ and ‘rights’.  However, by using appropriate language and good contract management techniques, the likelihood of our client having to enforce the contract was significantly reduced.