Phone icon
Menu icon
Professional insurance
with a personal touch
We're here to help
0345 561 0320
Local rate & mobile friendly

Why client sign off matters


Sign up to sign off

Seems straightforward doesn’t it? Do the work, get it signed off, everyone’s happy.

Well, yes and no. Although that does sound pretty straightforward, the whole sign off thing can be a bit of a grey area.

If you provide a professional service, it’s a good idea to be aware of what sign off means, why it makes good business sense to get it, and how you can make sure you do.

This *cough* completely real conversation explains more:

Client: Hello PolicyBee. So, sign off then. What’s that all about?

PolicyBee: Hmm, yes, good one that. Bit of hot potato so let's see if we can help. What do you do?

Client: I’m in marketing. Consultancy mainly but some design and copywriting too.

PB: So you get your clients’ approval on the work you do?

Client: Yep. Well I think so. I show it to them and they give me the thumbs up. Is that what you mean?

PB: Sort of. The next thing is getting that thumbs up documented in some way. Getting your work signed off is one of the first steps to 'best practice'.

Client: Best practice. Right. How so?

PB: Simple. Let’s take your work as an example – a print ad, say. It’s a well-established legal precedent that your client accepts final responsibility for it by signing it off.

If they spot an error after they’ve put pen to paper, it's their problem not yours.

That’s an important distinction.

Client: But what if my client argues my error is my error, regardless of whether they signed off the work or not? And what if they decide to sue me for the cost of putting the ad right?

PB: OK. Let’s assume you’re a switched-on kind of  person and have professional indemnity insurance.

In this example, it’s important to realise if your client sues you for an ad they've signed off, your policy won’t pay to reprint it.

Client: That’s because it's no longer my responsibility, right?

PB: Right.

Client: So does that mean I’m not covered?

PB: No it doesn’t. If your client decides to sue, your professional indemnity insurance will still defend you. That is what it’s for, after all. Here, it just won’t pay for the costs of a reprint.

Client: I see. What if, despite my best efforts, something goes wrong after everything’s signed off?

PB: Like?

Client: Well, what if I accidently send the wrong, unapproved version of my work to a printer? Or what if I change part of a document while correcting another error, and it’s not noticed until it’s too late?

PB: Good examples and both are actually pretty common. Either way, as before, you’re covered.

Client: That’s a relief. And what about the printer? What if they drop the ball?

PB: If the printer makes a mistake, the printer puts it right. Simple as that.

Client: My clients frequently ask for last-minute verbal amendments too. How do I keep track of them?

PB: That’s no problem. Your best bet is to acknowledge the amendment in writing. Importantly, within that, you should point out if your client doesn't sign off the final version, you’ll accept no responsibility for subsequent errors.

Client: That seems fair enough. So how do I go about making the whole sign off process ‘official’?

PB: It doesn’t have to be complicated. We’d recommend having a section in your terms and conditions that references your sign off procedure and explains your clients’ responsibilities. That should be enough.

And then don’t forget to actually apply it, of course …

Client: Of course. Just one more thing: can I assume that if I don’t get sign off then I’m not covered at all?

PB: You’d think so wouldn’t you? But no, that’s not the case.

If, for some reason, you didn’t get sign off and it turns out there was an error (and it was your fault), your policy would still defend you. You have made a genuine mistake after all.

Don’t be thinking that that gets you off the hook though. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother getting sign off on every contract …

Client: I wouldn’t dream of it. I’ll get cracking on that then. Thanks PB.

PB: No problem. PolicyBee, er, signing off …

If you liked this, you might like thesethis...

Why insurance is a clever step for dance teachers
A compensation claim for injury, damage or alleged poor teaching can easily leave you dancing to someone else's tune. Dance teacher insurance can help.
Is it worth going into IT contracting? Or better to stay employed?
If you're thinking of jacking in your perm job and going into IT contracting, there's plenty of demand. But there's a few things to think about too.
Impact of long working hours on IT professionals and ways to cope with stress
IT professionals work extremely long hours. How is this affecting their health and daily lives? And how can they manage stress?

More Advice, News & Know-how

Sign up to being prepared and protected

Get reliable advice on protecting and fine-tuning your business or charity sent straight to your inbox. Plus, receive other occasional bits we think you'll enjoy, like competitions and offers. We promise not to swamp you, and you can unsubscribe easily.

Sign me up