In our weekly legal section, the Leader, with the wise advice of the GHP Legal team, endeavors to answer some of your issues. Lawyer James Denton is answering today’s question …
Q: I am a freelance landscaper. As I am dyslexic I try to do as little paperwork as possible so I usually do a verbal quote and if the client is happy I order the material, do the work and at the end give them my bank details and they pay me.
However, I have a clumsy customer who wants an invoice. Not only that, but it asks for a VAT invoice and I am not registered for VAT. The work I did was at his house, but he wants me to bill his company, which worries me. Initially he just wanted me to widen his route, but then he kept adding more things like paths and a summer house and chopping down trees, so the bill now stands at almost 19,000. £ and I paid for all the materials. Do I have to give him an invoice?
A: There is a legal obligation for anyone in the UK who supplies goods or services as a business to also provide an invoice. As you are not registered for VAT, you are not required to provide anything other than a normal invoice.
An invoice can be handwritten. Unless it is a proforma invoice, it should contain an invoice number as a payment reference, as well as a description of the goods / services provided, the date they were provided and the name and customer’s address.
Perhaps your client is hoping to reclaim VAT on materials through their business. If they want you to include their business name and address on the invoice, you won’t be breaking the law if you do, because an invoice is not a legally binding agreement. When your customer pays you, be sure to give them a receipt. If you think you need to structure your business more formally, you should make an appointment with a local lawyer.
• This question was answered by James Denton, a lawyer for GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, it is always possible, and we do everything possible to ensure that we continue to provide our high levels of service to our customers. As per government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely, which means you may not receive a response as quickly as expected. Please be patient with us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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