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Contractor doctor: can I leave early even without a termination clause?

Dear Contractor Doctor,

I'm currently 3 months into a 12 month contract. The work is stale and the pay is terrible, made worse by being caught by IR35.

I would really like to leave and am applying for permanent jobs at the moment, but the problem is that the contract states that the contractor has no right to terminate.

How can I get out of this contract? Should I try and have a friendly chat with my boss, the agency, or just state I'm leaving?


[Name supplied]

Contractor Doctor says:

Sorry to hear things are not going well for you whilst contracting.

There might be little point chatting to your agency. It is in their interests for you to stay so they can keep earning their commission.

By leaving the contract early, you run the risk of exposing your business to a claim for damages for breach of contract. The costs to your company could be substantial. The agency could claim for both loss of its own fees and for costs incurred replacing you. In most cases, the only way to end a contract prematurely is through a negotiated settlement or by offering a substitute to complete the work, if the contract allows it.

However, if you entered into a contract and find that the assignment itself bears little resemblance to what was discussed either between yourself and the agency, you have the option of terminating the contract without penalty. It may even be possible to take legal action to recover any losses caused as a result of the misrepresentation, such as losses resulting from turning down another contract opportunity.

Often misrepresentations such as this are a result of a genuine mistake. In which case the client and the agency will both be keen to make amends by helping negotiate you a more suitable contract or allowing you to leave.

Having a friendly word with your client is the sensible option. They are unlikely to want to enforce contractors to stay who are unhappy and unmotivated. They could then terminate you early, assuming they have the option. Then the agency will have no recourse to sue you for damages relating to a breach of contract.

Good luck. Hope it goes well.

Contractor Doctor

Updated: 17 April 2018

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