Is it legal to create a contract after payment has been made and the job has been completed?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal to create a contract after payment has been made and the job has been completed?

I recently commissioned someone for some graphics online, the understanding at the time was a fixed price per item and the items could be used anywhere I wished, for my site, my business cards, etc. The artist was paid for the items at the time of agreement, the items were finished, and files sent to me for use. Now, nearly 3 weeks later, the artist has come back to me and said that they want money for each item and for each place each item is used. So for every one I have on my business cards, I’d pay, and if I’m using that same item somewhere else, I’d pay again. The artist has now drawn up a contract and said that if the money is not paid and the contract is not signed, they will revoke the use of the art from me, and if needed they will contact a lawyer to sue me for use of the items without payment. Is this legal?

Asked on March 15, 2017 under Business Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legal. There was a contract, pursuant to which the art was created: the understanding (even if it was an oral, or unwritten one) pursuant to which you commissioned the work and the artist created it. That agreement is enforceable and binding; the artist cannot legally change the terms under which he did the work. That does not mean he won't try, or won't file a lawsuit--since courts don't "prescreen" lawsuits for validity, even weak or bad cases can be filed, forcing you to respond--but based on what you write, it would appear that the artist is bound to what he'd agreed to before doing the work.

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