You pour your heart into your business and protect it with expertly crafted contracts. But, like fashion, business is subject to change. When you need to change the terms of a business relationship, employee relationship, or project, you may amend the contract.
This is a “when,” really, not an “if,” and it’s important to us that you understand how to legally amend your contracts. So, here’s a little guidance.
Need to amend a contract? We have a template for that! Check out all of the latest additions to our collection of beautifully designed contracts.
What is a Contract Amendment?
First, let’s have an ideological level set:
A contract amendment is a mutually agreed-upon change.
Both parties agree — you + your client; you + your contractor, etc. — to change something in your contract.
An amendment is not the same as an addendum:
- An amendment changes or modifies some part of the earliest agreement in an original contract.
- An addendum is an addition, typically some kind of supplemental terms or anything added to a contract that may be outside of a standard agreement.
- Fun fact: the plural of addendum is “addenda.”
Let’s cover the basics of amending an existing contract.
Amending an Existing Contract
The first step to amending a contract is to check that the original contract contains an amendment provision. All TLG templates do, but if you’ve sourced your contract elsewhere, you need to check this out. Of course, it goes without saying, from reading this into the rest of your life, you should make a mental note to ensure there is a clause for this in all future contracts you sign.
Contract amendments can take three forms:
- Adding something to the contract, such as a few additional landing pages on a website or a few more pieces of furniture on a design scheme.
- Deleting something from the contract, such as removing a few hours of press outreach or an additional coaching workshop.
- Changing a part of the contract, such as simply changing the timeline for delivery, simple components of the scope of work, or deliverables themselves.
Here’s the general cadence of a contract amendment:
Both parties decide that something about the original contract needs to be materially changed or altered. Say you originally had a scope of work for six, 1:1 coaching sessions with a client. You’re so amazingly wonderful that they decide they want to add a second weekly session with their entire leadership team. That would be a material change that requires a contract amendment.
Once you talk through the new terms, you need to arrive at mutual consent and write new contract language.
There are three approaches to a contract amendment that you might encounter, so let’s walk through those.
- Alterations on a Contract, or Strikethrough
An effective, simple way to make contract amendments is a simple strikethrough or redlining method.
This can be done yourself, if you are using an attorney-created lawyer you trust, like one from The Legal Godfairy.
Mark the contract, then everyone dates and signs the changes.
This works for very simple contract amendments: say you run an interior design business and your original contract was for three mockup versions, digitally delivered. After working with a client, you realize that two mockup versions is plenty (because your aesthetic is so on point). If everyone agrees to that, it may be a simple matter of replacing “three” with “two” on your contract.
- Replacing Sections in a Contract
You may wish to replace an entire section of a contract with another. Perhaps you’ve hired a virtual assistant as an independent contractor. Your VA is knocking it out of the park and you want to have them oversee not only your personal calendar and appointments but also help with project management. You can outline the nature of those adjusted duties in a new contract section, without having to change the entire substance of your IC agreement.
- Contract Amendment Described in a Separate Document
To amend a portion of a contract, you can write the amendment up in a separate document, describing what should be stricken and what should be modified. This gives you the ability to get specific about what is changing.
Let’s say you run a luxury gift basket delivery service through an eCommerce platform. You will probably enlist the help of multiple vendors for sourcing goods. If a major shift happens in your website’s shipping integration, it may change what you need from vendors. You could stipulate new terms around delivery timelines, sourcing methods, and more in a contract amendment in a separate document.
A Note: Minor Versus Significant Modifications
As you decide which of the three approaches to take, keep in mind that you need to decide whether an amendment represents a “minor” or “significant” modification.
- Minor is two versus three mockups.
- Significant is a new workflow and deliverable schedule for vendors.
How you structure and implement a contract amendment will be impacted by that determination.
How to Amend a Contract
Let’s recap how to amend a contract, in order:
- Review existing contract to ensure it contains an amendment provision
- Necessary changes are determined and defined
- All parties agree in advance
- You select the method of contract amendment that fits the change
- You draft the amendment in writing, using clear and specific language
- Send the amended contract, using a CRM like Dubsado, or electronic signature software like Docusign or HelloSign
- All parties sign and date the contract amendment
Can we get personal for a minute? (It’s just us here):
It’s important that you don’t feel shy about proposing a contract amendment. Remember: you’ve earned the business you perform for clients and customers. You don’t owe them meekness or “just going with the flow.”
This is your empire, and you reserve the right to draw boundaries about how and when you work, how and when you get paid for it, and everything else related to contracts. Be forward, bring this up, and make sure the terms are favorable for you. You have every right to do so, and we 1000% have your back.
Browse The Legal Godfairy Contracts and Collections
We are so proud of how you’ve carved out this corner of the universe and are putting your mark on it. All of your big ideas have the power to change everything: and your destiny is worth safeguarding. It’s why we’ve worked so hard to create resources that make it easier for you to gain legal protection.
It’s also why we’re adding new templates and tools all of the time.
Make the right investment in yourself and your business: use well-crafted contracts, amended when they need to be, and let that be one less thing you have to worry about.
Contracts are vital to your business. You know we won’t say otherwise. But they aren’t the only thing you need to succeed. Up next, read The Lowdown on Why Contracts Aren’t Enough.
*Disclaimer: This blog post has been prepared solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to provide, nor should it be relied on for, legal advice. Should you require advice regarding a specific matter, appropriate legal or other professional advice should be obtained.