The majority of clients pay their bills within a reasonable period, but if you find that your invoice has not been paid, or there appears to be a deliberate attempt to not pay you, you may want to follow these recommendations.
[hidden title ="Using a Contract"]
Never undertake a commission without a contract. A contract protects you fully against failure of payment and most other common issues. You can use the AOI Illustrator Commissioner Agreement as your contract.
The AOI Illustrator Commissioner Agreement includes this clause:
“The licence hereby granted to use the artwork is contingent upon the Illustrator having received payment in full of all monies due to her/him and no reproduction or publication rights are granted unless and until all sums due under this Agreement have been paid.”
Therefore, the client is infringing your copyright if they are using the illustration before you are paid, so if they do not pay invoices within the agreed 30 day period and continue to use the illustration(s) you would be entitled to require them to cease and desist until you have received payment.
[hidden title="After the first 30 Days"]
Invoices to your clients should include the statement ‘All payment is due within 30 days’. If the client has not paid by the end of this period the next step is to contact the art director you supplied your invoice to (or the company’s accounts department if you’ve already been given that information) letting them know that the payment has not been received and asking them to alert the accounts department to pay the due sum as soon as possible.
Even if you have not included ‘All payment is due within 30 days’ on your invoice you can do the above, as 30 days is an industry standard payment period.
If payment has not been received within a further seven days contact the accounts department (get the details from the art director if necessary) by email or phone. Ensure you record the name of the accountant you are communicating with so that you can follow up with a named individual if required.
Request a specific date by which you will be paid, and if you’ve spoken to the accountant follow up the call with an email detailing what has been agreed. For example, ‘Thank you for confirming that my outstanding invoice (number) will be paid into my account within seven days by 18 August 2018.’
If the client does not have an accounts department, or says that all enquiries should go through them individually, follow the same procedure as above directly with that individual.
If there is still no satisfactory response an email message should be backed up by an actual letter to the accounts department/client, as this may bear more weight. Detail what is owed, include a copy of your invoice and give a date by when you expect to be paid.
[hidden title = "Interest on Late payments"]
You cannot charge interest on late payments if you have not got this clause in your contract. In the AOI’s Illustrators Commissioner Agreement it is 4% for per annum payment is outstanding. If you have used a different agreement, a different rate may be stated which you should reflect in the contract letter.
You can invoice for this amount once they have agreed to pay it.
[hidden title= "Template letter"]
Include the following message as a formal letter along with your invoice (and the contract with payment clause highlighted if you have it) in the post to all available contacts (make sure the names are addressed correctly) and follow it up via email a few days later.
Outstanding account value: £XXXX
Invoice number : XXXX
As at today’s date, I have yet to receive payment of the outstanding amount, which is now considerably overdue. Despite previous reminders I am disappointed to note that the above account remains outstanding.
I have not yet levied any late payment or interest charges under “The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Regulations) 2013”.
However should payment in full not be received within the next seven days I will be adding 4% interest per annum to accrue daily for every day this is overdue.
I trust this will not be necessary and look forward to receiving payment by return.
[hidden title="Small Claims Court"]
If your requests for payment are ignored or continually stalled then you may have to resort to the law. The Small Claims procedure at the County Court is available when the sum involved is £10,000 or less.
See here for more information.
[hidden title="Overseas Clients"]
It doesn’t happen all that frequently, but when a client from overseas is not paying your fee you should apply the advice above. It may be more difficult to achieve a successful outcome, as ultimately a legal recourse is more complex and difficult to come by in a country outside the UK.
If you are contacted by a client from overseas it is worth telling them that you ask new clients for 50% of the fee at the rough stage of a commission. This would involve invoicing for half the fee once the roughs have been approved. This should ensure at least some payment is received should issues arise with the remainder of the commission. Ideally do not progress to final artwork until the payment for roughs have been received.