Can I charge a late fee on an invoice if there is no late fees section in the contract?

I am in Washington State. I have a signed contract, but of course there is
nothing in there about me being able to assign late fees. I have it noted on all
my invoices that any outstanding balance after 30 days will be charged a 10.00
late fee. Do they have to follow that?

Asked on May 24, 2016 under Business Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, if the first notice they received of late fees was *after* they had already placed the order (e.g. on the invoice), you can't get the fees. To be able to charge someone late fees, they must agree to them, even implicitly; to be held to agree to them, the person must have had notice (the reasonable opportunity to become aware of the fees) BEFORE entering into the transaction. In the future, put the late fees into your order form or terms of service and on our website.

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