Q: I am a freelance landscaper. As I am dyslexic, I try and do as little paperwork as possible, so I usually give a verbal quote and if the customer is happy with it, I order the materials, carry out the job and at the end I give them my bank details and they pay me.
However, I’ve got one awkward customer who wants an invoice. Not only that, but he is demanding a VAT invoice and I am not registered for VAT. The work I did was at his house, but he wants me to invoice his company, which worries me. It started out that he just wanted me to widen his drive, but then he kept adding on extra things like paths and a summerhouse and chopping down trees, so the bill is now nearly £19,000 and I have forked out for all the materials. Do I have to give him an invoice?
A: There is a legal requirement for anyone in the UK who is providing goods or services as a business to also provide an invoice. As you are not registered for VAT there is no requirement for you to provide anything more 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, together with a description of the good/services provided, the date they were provided and the name and address of the customer. Maybe your customer is hoping to claim back the VAT on the materials through his business. If he wants you to put his business name and address on the invoice you will not fall foul of the law if you do so, as an invoice is not a legally binding agreement. When your customer pays you, ensure you give him a receipt. If you feel you need to structure your business more formally you should make an appointment to see a local solicitor.
This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194