Could you be bound by amendments to your terms, agreed by your office junior in an email, without your knowledge or consent? You might think this sounds far-fetched, but a recent court case held that an exchange of emails could be sufficient to amend contractual terms, despite a “no amendment” clause.
Clear contractual terms are essential for recruiters, particularly in relation to the payment of introduction and transfer fees. Most variation clauses state that amendments must be signed by both parties; it now seems that a physical signature, or even an electronic signature, may not be necessary to amend contractual terms.
Without an express requirement that the contract can only be amended by a signature on paper, any electronic or informal correspondence, even between junior members of staff, could have the same effect.
So, what does this mean for recruiters? First, staff should have clear guidance as to who is authorised to agree to an amendment and in what circumstances, and recruiters should keep a close eye on negotiations.
The key to avoiding future disputes, however, is to ensure that robust, unambiguous terms are in place, limiting how and when the contract can be amended, and by whom.
Lawspeed specialises in drafting and reviewing terms for recruiters, to provide the best protection possible. For more information and advice, please contact Lawspeed on 01273 236 236.