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Home Forums Other Can I simply end a website project that has no contract?

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    Hey there all, won’t give too much details.. However, I intially created a proposal with a scope sheet, etc on things I’d be able to deliver and let’s fast forward a couple months later.. I ended up designing the whole eCommerce site, developed it over two times in both different platforms (First in Volusion, then second in Shopify based on Bootstrap framework) then was the one to migrate the data from Volusion to Shopify (totally not knowing I would do this and absolutely not part of my job).

    Realizing how much more work it really was, I’d say it’s at least 5x more work than I would’ve thought and I’ve explained to the client that this was absolutely over-scoped and they were definitely being a scope-creeper as well by even adding more stuff in.. He has only paid me 40% of the site which was a deposit and I’ve done WAY more work for the 40% he paid than I should have.

    We never officially signed a contract nor had one made and he’s now threatening financial consequences towards me considering I didn’t deliver on the date we initially said we’d have it done by. Even though, I’ve done way more work than I was paid for.. Can I simply tell them, if you’re not willing to pay the costs to compensate this ‘new’ scope sheet, can I just end the project like that?

    I’d hate to leave them behind now without a website, but with them also not understanding it was kind of deceiving of how much work they really had that they didn’t tell me, but they aren’t willing to pay more to have the rest of the site finished. With also threats coming to me from them, it makes our relationship more uncomfortable to me not want to do business with them anymore.

    Can I see myself being in any legal action? I did my job best as I could, but I’m not someone who’s willing to be underpaid and threatened.

    Thank you all.


    You don’t have a contract, so you’re both on shaky legal ground. I suppose you’ve got emails recorded. I’d offer to simply stop where you are, sign a contract (that protects both of you) and start fresh from where the project is now.


    I intially created a proposal with a scope sheet, etc on things I’d be able to deliver …

    depending on the venue and the judge, you might find that that qualifies as a contract – especially if your negotiation was via email (where actually signing a document is less practical), and you subsequently accepted a deposit.

    As @TheDoc says, shaky. If they’re not willing to discuss the situation with you, and try to work it out, I’d recommend talking to a lawyer about it (just a consultation, to find out where you stand).


    Call their bluff. Seriously.

    Walk away. Save all the conversations, write them a nice exit email and say goodbye. Don’t ask for the rest of the money. Don’t feel bad about “leaving them without a website”… You want a website… fucking pay for the work.

    And next time… always contracts… even with your friends/family etc… Contract is not for one-upping-other… it’s in place so both parties understand the term and scope. It is there to protect you both.

    +1 on free consultation with lawyer… possible before you send exit email… but honestly… I would call their bluff, they have way more too lose.



    Written agreements via email can constitute a contract in some jurisdictions.


    Depending on where you live, e-mail may serve as a legal document. Most people doesn’t know it, and doesn’t care about what they are writing to you in their mails. Real problem is a phone call, but I always ask my clients to write it again in mail (in case I forgot, hear something wrong and all that stuff, plus I got it written down).

    But always, and I mean always write a contract. It needs to be very specific and say exactly what you have to do, how much will you get for it and how much time you have. It can have ten pages if it needs to (mine has four, five max), but it will keep both of you safe (especially when you want a financial penalties).

    If I were you, I’d say let’s write a contract that covers whan I have done in the past, what more client wants etc. If they doesn’t want to, ask a lawyer if you can sue them. Theoretically, I would say yes, but in practice – most cases, money aren’t worth your wasted time and nerves.


    Written agreements via email can constitute a contract in some jurisdictions.

    Right — especially when you accept a payment afterwards. That’s a clear indicator of acceptance, in the absence of a signature.

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