Bethesda, MD asked in Contracts and Employment Law for Maryland

Q: I have a question about retainers.

If a client has hired a a freelancer and signed a retainer agreement, does the freelancer have the responsibility to keep the client updated on the hours being billed.

Can the freelancer surpass the agreed upon hours without notifying client and ask for surplus hours at a later. In this case, client was asked to pay a surplus of 30h. Client was never billed or shown any financial data for over a year and was caught off guard when freelancer asked client to pay surplus hours after the fact.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Not enough facts to evaluate. Need to see the contract, and then go over facts and course of conduct of the parties after the contract was signed, and the knowledge of--and receipt of the benefit by the client of-- the work performed by the freelancer. If the client received above and beyond what the original contract called for, and knowingly continued to receive the benefit of the work performed after the initial services under the contract had been received, then equity will require the client to pay fair compensation for the benefits received that were not paid for. Contracts can be modified by oral agreement, or by course of conduct. If some or all of the hours are for services and work specifically requsted by the client, in addition to what was called for in the written contract, then the client is obligated to pay for that extra work. The contract terms provide a reasonable measure for how such services are valued when it comes to determining the amount owed if a new price was not identified.

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