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Which country's law covers Upwork contracts?

Active Member
David H Member Since: Apr 17, 2019
1 of 12

In case of a legal dispute which country's laws apply? This impacts my insurance cover.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 12

As far as I'm concerned, the answer is:



First: Don't get into a dispute.

Second: If you get into a dispute, handle it within the Upwork user interface and platform, or not at all.


But if you are wondering where Upwork's corporate headquarters are, they're in Mountain View, California, in the United States.

But if you have a dispute, your dispute is probably not with Upwork. A dispute would be between two parties whose meeting Upwork facilitated. Upwork is not party to your legal dispute.

Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
3 of 12

Hi David,


You may refer to the Section 14 of the User Agreement for information regarding possible disputes between you and Upwork. We also recommend that you talk to your own legal advisors to find out more.

~ Valeria
Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
4 of 12

That's a particularly interesting question because there is no contract drectly between freelancer and client in most cases. 


Both just have a very general contract of sorts with Upwork.


I'd be surprised if more than a fraction of one percent of disputes between freelancers and clients end up in any court. The amount of money for many/most contracts make the low cost of arbitration unattractive and cost prohibitive; the cost of taking a dispute to court would be a large multiple of the cost of arbitration. And the cost of doing so would be multiplied many times over if the client and freelancer were located in different countries.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
5 of 12

David, I'm not sure what all these tangents are about. This should be all the information your insurer needs


"These Site Terms of Use, the other Terms of Service, and any Claim will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Delaware, without regard to its conflict of law provisions and excluding the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG); provided, however, that any Claims made by any Freelancer located within the United States will be governed by the law of the state in which such Freelancer resides. However, notwithstanding the foregoing sentence, this Arbitration Provision is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq.)."

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
6 of 12

I see that text you quote under Section 14. Disputes Between You and Upwork, Tiffany, as well as "...we will both first try to resolve any dispute informally and, if you are in the United States, that we both agree to use arbitration instead of going to court or using a jury if we can’t resolve the dispute informally, as detailed below."


The "We" being Upwork (and its "affiliates" and a user).


Why do you think this covers conflicts between freelancers and clients that are not resolved using Upwork's freelancer-client resolution process or arbitration?

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
7 of 12

In fact, in the Service Contracts document's Section 3.2 Disputes Among Users Upwork says, "For disputes arising between Clients and Freelancers, you agree to abide by the dispute process that is explained in the Escrow Instructions that apply to your particular Service Contract. If the dispute process does not resolve your dispute, you may pursue your dispute independently, but you acknowledge and agree that Upwork will not and is not obligated to provide any dispute assistance beyond what is provided in the Escrow Instructions." Upwork goes on to say, "If Freelancer or Client intends to obtain an order from any arbitrator or any court..."


In other words, Upwork does determine which other arbitrator or court must be used if there is a conflict between Upwork users.


So it appears the answer to the original question posed in this thread is not specifically addressed in Upwork's documents. Users are not obligated to use any particular arbitrator or court to look for resolution of disputes with one another.

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
8 of 12



"In other words, Upwork DOES NOT determine which other arbitrator or court must be used if there is a conflict between Upwork users."

Active Member
David H Member Since: Apr 17, 2019
9 of 12

Thanks for your responses. They're helpful, especially those linking to Upwork's T&Cs. I entirely agree that any disputes should be 1) avoided, 2) resolved via Upwork.


However, not all of my work involves Upwork, so I have taken professional indemnity cover for the unlikely situation when a client (not Upwork) feels the need to take legal action. (With 30 years in financial IT, I've not seen it needed.)


The question arose when the broker asked which country's laws govern my work for Upwork. 


It would appear from the answers that if the dispute cannot be resolved between a client and freelancer, despite Upwork's intervention, and the case goes to court, the decision about which country's law governs the dispute needs to be determined between the freelancer and the client.


Please note - this is only a theoretical discussion based on a question from an insurance broker. All of my clients have been ( and will be) happy! Smiley Happy

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
10 of 12

Since many Upwork projects are cross-border and have a value well below what a lawsuit would cost for both freelancer or client, I'd guess most clients and freelancers never give any thought to a lawsuit to reconcile disagreements with one another.


But I don't remember any posts on this board, which sees a wide variety of complaints freelancers have against clients and some discussing the reverse, that included any serious discussion of any potential legal action beyond arbitration. 


I would expect that for very large Upwork projects with substantial amounts of money involved, agreeing where any legal actions between freelancer and client would take place is clearly not a tangential issue to either freelancer or client. There is no prohibition against client and freelancer having legal agreements beyond what Upwork's rules define, the most common possibly being non-disclosure agreements.


This is a concept even a moderately attentive second year law student would likely be expected to know. Upwork's own stance on this issue is clear once you wade through all the legalese.

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