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Written Agreements for International Projects

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For avoidance of doubt and to clarify expectations and understandings between parties, it is generally advisable to work with partners/collaborators. A written agreement is needed anytime there is:

  • A collaboration with specific expectations or deliverables
  • A financial transaction or obligation

Only certain University officers are authorized to enter into and execute agreements on behalf of the University. Generally, faculty / investigators are not authorized to execute agreements on behalf of the University. Such agreements should be reviewed and authorized by the cognizant school or University officers. See additional guidelines from Stanford’s Office of General Counsel.

Any of the offices listed in the table below can assist with agreements and refer as necessary to other experts. It is preferable to include these offices in the planning phase so that issues can be addressed prior to executing the agreement.

The value of a written agreement is that it clearly documents the specifics of an arrangement or relationship so that there is no need to rely on recollections, especially in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong. Other reasons for considering a written agreement include:

  • Documenting the expectations, and/or deliverables and financial arrangements so all parties are aware and agree;
  • Creating and clarifying legal relationships between the parties;
  • Allocating risks and responsibilities for liabilities;
  • Creating deterrents and clarifying resources for non-compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Written agreements have various sections that detail the parties to the agreement, the terms of the agreement (including what the agreement covers, payment terms, and agreement terminations), protective language for both Stanford and the counterparty, and other obligations (such as data privacy or anti-bribery language).

Depending on the specifics of your project, there are specific central offices that could have a role in drafting a written agreement.

For: Consult:
Academic Issues or Collaboration Agreements
[including Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs)]
Office of International Affairs (OIA)
Sponsored Research Office of Research Administration (ORA)
Legal Matters (including MOUs) The Office of General Council (OGC)
Financial Transactions and Business Matters Global Business Services (GBS)

What's Next?

  • Review the guidelines from Stanford's Office of General Counsel regarding authorized University Officers who can execute agreements on behalf of the University.
  • Confer with the relevant central office team referenced in the table above during the planning phase of your project to ensure that adequate time and resources are allocated to negotiating and executing an agreement.