The changes encourage a more in-depth approvals process, so that contracts are signed off properly.
It has made the changes to reflect new working practices. This is the first time the document has been altered since its introduction in 2000, and the PRCA hopes the changes will encourage wider take-up.
The contract, which has been redrafted in conjunction with commercial lawyers Lewis Silkin, is positioned as the ‘industry standard that speeds up the negotiation stage and cuts out the need to hire a solicitor’.
The contract has been amended so that it can be used for the three main types of working arrangement: roster, retainer and one-off projects.
New models have also been developed for payment, and the revamped contract caters for monthly fee, agreed project fee and by-the-hour work.
Other changes cover risk control for both client and agency in the event of contracts breaking down. There are tighter controls on indemnity provisions, with liability specified for areas such as loss of earnings. This also aims to ensure that the contract is compatible with most professional indemnity insurance arrangements.
According to Lewis Silkin partner Brinsley Dresden, significant changes were implemented to reconcile the conflicting demands of cost control and risk management.
‘It was a thorough overhaul and quite a significant step forward,’ he added PRCA director general Flora Hamilton said a contract was essential to ensure transparent relationships between clients and agencies.
‘As the services provided by public relations consultancies become more complex, the drafting and agreement of client/agency contracts has become increasingly difficult and time-consuming.’