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Should I sign an NDA before working for a client?

A client is asking me to sign an NDA before I can draft a patent application for him.

Should I proceed?


A client is asking me to sign an NDA before I can draft a patent application for him.

Should I proceed?

We have also recently received a request from client to sign an NDA. This is how we replied:

Dear Client,

We refer to your email of today.

1. We are happy to see that you take data security seriously, and we would like to assure you that whatever information you provides to us will only be used for the purposes for which it is disclosed - even if there is no NDA in place.

This is because we already have a duty of confidentiality expressly set out in the code of conduct of the Singapore patent laws.

2. We take this duty of confidentiality very seriously. This is why we have recently employed a data protection officer (he has a Ph.D in computer science) to oversee the security of our files and computer systems. We are currently undergoing a certification process with respect to GDPR compliance.

All our employees also sign NDAs with us, to safeguard any information they have come into contact with during the course of their work here.

3. In short, an NDA with us is not required because we already have statutory duties of confidentiality. Further, it is our company policy not to sign NDAs with our clients.

Please let us know if you are willing to continue working with us without an NDA.


We have also recently received a request from client to sign an NDA. This is how we replied: Dear Client, We refer to your email of today. 1. We are happy to see that you take data security seriously, ... [read more]

That is a standard problem, and it is not client's fault. Clients have been told again and again by lawyers and other advisors that anyone they share confidential business information with should first be asked to sign an NDA to protect them.

However, in the context of engaging and consulting with an attorney, an NDA can be a detriment to both parties.  Attorneys are already bound by the ethical rules and requirements of our profession not to disclose the confidential information shared with us by a client.  This applies even if you simply have an initial meeting and you do not end up being hired as a lawyer.

Further, everything your client discloses to you in the course of the attorney-client relationship is protected by law it is in many countries even not admissible as evidence in a court of law.

The strict confidentiality duties in place make it also easy for us attorneys because we do not have to analyze NDAs clients propose to see if they comply with the laws that already govern our attorney-client relationship.

Further, we do not want to find ourselves in a situation where we are bound by contractual obligations to their client that potentially alter the important existing ethical obligations they already have under the law.  For example, an NDA could constrain a communications that you may need to make in the future to a court or other governing body on your behalf.

This is why we should refuse to sign NDAs with our clients.

If you explain to your client this in detail and also what data protection measures you have in place in order to keep anything that they say to you in strictest confidence, the client should be ok.

If the client still wants you to sign an NDA, you better send him away. Such clients often turn out to be troublemakers and bad paymasters, and it is not worth to spend your time with them.


That is a standard problem, and it is not client's fault. Clients have been told again and again by lawyers and other advisors that anyone they share confidential business information with should firs ... [read more]