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Legal framework

One of the most common requests that I see within the learning and development community is to do with legal issues. Presuming that there is no current contract arrangement in place with a particular training provider it is prudent that the legal framework between a purchaser and a provider of training services be declared and agreed. The contractual elements that need to be made clear are:

  • intellectual property (if you are commissioning the design, do you want ownership)
  • cancellation/postponement terms (you will be expected to pay a percentage of an agreed fee for an agreed date that is cancelled or postponed within a few days or weeks of the date)
  • terms of invoice (up front payments, interim payments, payments on completion)
  • terms of payment (should be no more than 30 days after invoice)
  • objectives of the project

Contract terms are there to be negotiated however if no discussion on terms takes place then it is the side that declares their terms first that usually has the high ground in any subsequent dispute.

Intellectual property is one of the most contentious issues within the learning and development community. There is a huge amount of materials being passed off as belonging to a practitioner to which that practitioner has little or no rights to use. Also if a commissioning manager runs a course; takes possession of the participants’ workbooks and then gets an internal trainer to deliver the course from the workbook; that commissioning manager and the internal trainer are most likely in breach of intellectual property laws. The workbook is for the purpose of reference for a participant on the previous course; it is not offered as a teaching aid and taking possession of the workbook does not constitute a ‘licence to use’. No one has the right to use the property invested in the workbook other than the person (usually the trainer) that created the property.

Learning and development practitioners in my experience have a tendency to dislike dealing with legal requirements. Practitioners are trusting people people and the formality of legal contracts does not sit well with their values system. If a practitioner does not raise the issue of contractual arrangements; then you should. The practitioner will probably be relieved that you did.

I have been involved in commissioning freelance associates since 2000 and have seen a wide range of contract arrangements. If a commissioning manager is new to the field of purchasing training services and wants an independent learning and development expert to review any aspect of the contracting process please feel free to get in touch.

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Peter Mayes

Peter Mayes. Peter Mayes is the founder and editor of TrainerBase; dedicated to helping business and other organisations find trainers and trainers find business. Contact details: Tel 07970 746077

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