International contract negotation tips

"As an experienced contractor who mainly deals with overseas clients, all I have to say is that if you go into this sort of work without fully understanding the risks them you should give it all up and go do something else. Some basic rules.

1) Agree a payment plan. Stage payments for specific milestones.

2) Use an accountant who knows what they are doing with international business

3) Suggest using an escrow account. Client pays all the money up front. Then agrees to release parts as deliveries are made. Also agree a timeout clause so that if they don't agree the final payment you get it automatically after 6 months. Russuans are very bad at agreeing the final payment.

4) Use a Lawyer who knows about international contract law.

5) Both parties to agree that the laws of ONE country shall apply to the contract. UNLESS it is with former parts of the USSR that are not in the EU. Then agree Swiss Law.

6) Every change no matter how small must be agreed in writing and signed off with agreed costs. Do not do anything as a freebie. This habit is endemic in many countries especially in Moscow.

7) Make sure that the person on the other side is actually authorized to sign the contract. I've had clients try to wriggle out of payment saying 'He was not authorised to sign the contract so we can't pay you'

8) If you are going to sign away the title of the stuff you develop then make the transfer of title a separate contract. Agree in the original contract that title will change hands only when the job has been completed AND full payment made.

9) Learn the language especially the swear words. A few curses in their language can work wonders when a client is being awkward."