Frequently Asked Questions

Guiding Buyers and Sellers Through Contract Creation, Execution and Management Tools, as well as Online Escrow and Dispute Resolution Processes.

About Equal Foot
  1. Equal Foot was created to meet the needs of contracting parties to negotiate, execute, manage and enforce their contracts. Our service provides tools to initiate, manage and execute the life cycle of entire contracts.
  2. Equal Foot is designed to place buyers and sellers on an equal footing. Being “on an equal footing” is commonly defined as persons or groups having the same rights and treated the same as each other, however different they are. No matter the size, leverage, or financial strength of a party, when using Equal Foot, each party has the same rights and is treated the same.
  3. Equal Foot can be used by buyers and sellers alike. Buyers include clients and customers, buying goods as well as services. Sellers include vendors, merchants and contractors, selling goods as well as services.
  4. We mean that if a party performs the way it has agreed to perform in a contract entered through Equal Foot, the party will receive what is bargained for or be made whole. If you are a buyer, then your performance is to pay the seller to perform. You will first pay into Equal Foot’s escrow account, and when the seller performs to your satisfaction, then you will release the funds to the seller. If, and to the extent, that the seller does not perform, then money will be returned to you, ultimately through our dispute resolution process. If you are the seller, your performance is in exchange for money. You will be informed when the buyer has deposited funds into escrow and then commence your performance. If you perform as required in the contract, then you will be paid for your performance. In this way, Equal Foot is like an “insurance" on any contract entered by parties using it.
  5. Equal Foot does not actually insure contracts. What Equal Foot does is create a level playing field with equally-applied rules that allow parties to feel secure about contracting.
  6. Equal Foot is a service for buyers and sellers alike. Through Equal Foot, the buyer and seller agree to terms which include a description of the contract and milestones containing the performance details including payments. The agreement of terms constitutes a binding contract between the parties, which can only be modified by mutual agreement of the parties. The buyer then deposits funds into Equal Foot’s escrow account, which funds are held pending the seller’s performance. When the seller knows the funds are in escrow, the seller will perform. After completing performance, if the seller has met the milestone, then the buyer will release the funds, and the funds will be paid to the seller. If there is a dispute as to performance at any time, a party can initiate to resolve it through Equal Foot’s dispute resolution process. Click here for a diagram and for more information about how Equal Foot works.
  7. No, there is no fee to register. Our service fees are based on each contract you create and are only charged upon depositing funds into Equal Foot's escrow account. See the the FAQs Section entitled "Equal Foot's Plans and Pricing" for information on our plans and fees.

Contracting on Equal Foot
  1. First you have to register to become an Equal Foot member, and registration is free. After registering, you can then create a contract in six easy steps. Equal Foot’s Contract Wizard guides you step by step to answer questions about the other party, about the contract, about milestones and about payments. It takes less than ten minutes to complete the contract, although because it is legally binding, we suggest that you take your time and be as specific and descriptive as possible. Once you are satisfied that the contract reflects the entire agreement between you and the other party, you can then send the proposed contract to the other party.
  2. If the other party is not an Equal Foot member, then he or she will have to register. If the other party is already a member, then the proposed contract can be reviewed by logging in. After reviewing the contract, the other party can accept it, modify it and send it back to the proposing party as a counter proposal or reject it.
  3. If you receive a notice that the other party has sent you a counter proposal, then you can access the contract by logging in. Equal Foot then allows you to view the specific changes made by the other party to determine whether you want to accept them or want to make a counter proposal.
  4. At such time that both parties accept the same version of a contract that they have exchanged, the contact is legally binding. At that point, it is legally enforceable by the parties and can only be modified by mutual agreement in writing between the parties.
  5. Getting to a binding contract is just one part of using Equal Foot. You will then use the service to manage the contract and timetable, manage payments, and keep digital notes and files as the contract is performed, until the contract is completed. Equal Foot’s calendar informs you when you have pending items and deadlines. Equal Foot also allows you to group contracts into one project so that you can manage multiple projects In one place.

Escrow Services
  1. Simply defined, an escrow is a deposit of funds by one party for the delivery to another party upon completion of a particular condition or event.
  2. Equal Foot's escrow services are provided by its wholly-owned subsidiary EF Escrow Services LLC. The duties of EF Escrow Services LLC include: following the instructions given by the parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling the funds in accordance with instructions; paying all amounts as authorized; responding to authorized requests; closing the escrow arrangement only when all terms and conditions have been met; and, distributing the funds in accordance with instructions and providing an accounting for the same. The escrow account is held at City National Bank, and has a sole function of holding funds securely for Equal Foot member transactions, awaiting authorized instructions. The escrow account does not have capability to be accessed externally; funds are received by, and sent from, an intermediary account, and deposits into the intermediary account from Equal Foot members are swept into the secured escrow account.
  3. The escrow account is an intrinsic and essential element of contracting through Equal Foot. During the contract creation and negotiation process, you will first identify the total value of the contract, then you will identify one or several milestones that form performance of what is being paid for. For sales of goods, there is a single milestone -- the delivery of the good or product to the buyer's satisfaction. For the provision of services, whether construction, design, software, an so forth, there can be multiple milestones each step of the way toward completion of the service. The buyer and seller will agree to amounts ascribed to each milestone and when the contract becomes binding, payments of these amounts automatically go into the escrow account.
  4. There is no set amount that we can recommend; the parties will mutually agree to the amount to be deposited for each milestone. In order to be on equal footing, it makes sense that the agreed amount of each payment should be the value ascribed by the parties to the applicable milestone. For instance, in a sale of goods transaction, like the sale of a car, the payment for the single milestone will be the agreed-upon purchase price. Another example, in a provision of services, like the replacement of a roof, each milestone should be what it is worth to each party. The first milestone would be the value to the buyer of the seller removing the old roof and the value to the seller of the labor involved in removing the old roof. If the seller does not perform, then the buyer will get its money back. If the seller performs, then the seller will get the money. If the seller performs, gets the money, then disappears, then the seller only received the value of the service that it performed. The buyer can then contract with another roofer to finish the job.
  5. As a service provided on the world wide web, Equal Foot is available except where otherwise expressly prohibited. In our Beta version, accounts and transactions are in U.S. dollars and any international transactions will need to be converted to U.S. dollars. We are planning to add more currencies over time especially as we launch Equal Foot in specific countries.

Dispute Resolution Services
  1. In most contracts, parties leave open the means to resolve disputes. Contracts may provide for the governing law, jurisdiction, or even arbitration processes, however, the typical dispute resolution process is cumbersome, difficult for most to navigate without legal counsel, time-consuming, inefficient and potentially expensive. For example, even a $250,000 legal lawsuit may cost more in time and money than the amount sought. Equal Foot revolutionizes the contract process by obliging contracting parties to resolve their disputes using Equal Foot's dispute resolution process. The process has multiple options and is fast, efficient and cost-effective.
  2. A party can initiate the dispute resolution process at any time. Once a party initiates a dispute, the process to resolve it begins. Most disputes can be resolved through open communication with the other party. As soon as a dispute is initiated, Equal Foot offers Direct Talks™, a free tool that allows the parties to attempt to resolve the dispute between themselves. The other party will then receive notice that a dispute has been initiated and will read the explanation for initiating the dispute and may reply, hopefully leading to direct settlement. Either party may then propose mediation or escalate to arbitration at any time. Both mediation and arbitration services are provided by the American Arbitration Association® (AAA) in the U.S. and its International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR) outside of the U.S. Once a party elects to escalate a dispute to arbitration, the arbitration process will commence and the matter will be decided by the arbitrator.
  3. Equal Foot is pleased to have the American Arbitration Association® (AAA) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR) as its exclusive providers of mediation and arbitration services. The AAA, is a not-for-profit organization with offices throughout the U.S. The AAA has a long history and experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution, providing services to individuals and organizations who wish to resolve conflicts out of court. The AAA role in the dispute resolution process is to administer cases, from filing to closing. The AAA provides administrative services in the U.S., as well as abroad through its ICDR. The AAA's and ICDR's administrative services include assisting in the appointment of mediators and arbitrators, setting hearings, and providing users with information on dispute resolution options, including settlement through mediation. Ultimately, the AAA aims to move cases through arbitration or mediation in a fair and impartial manner until completion.
  4. When two or more disputing parties seek to negotiate a settlement or are at a stalemate in existing negotiations, they can invite a neutral mediator to help them move toward a negotiated settlement of their own making. A mediator has no authority to impose a settlement. Mediation is prospective rather than retrospective. Instead of looking to the past in order to impose a resolution, mediation looks to the future to determine how the parties can work together for their mutual benefit. Mediation is a particularly well-suited process for those who want to play an active role in determining the outcome of a dispute because it provides an opportunity for parties and their representatives to work through issues with the assistance of an impartial third person trained to facilitate resolution.
  5. Equal Foot members who have a dispute that cannot be resolved through mediation are contractually obligated to escalate their dispute to be resolved through arbitration. Arbitration is a time-tested, cost-effective alternative to litigation. Arbitration is the submission of a dispute to one or more impartial persons for a final and binding decision, known as an "award." Awards are made in writing and are generally final and binding on the parties in the case. Arbitration through Equal Foot will be administered by the American Arbitration Association® (AAA), in the U.S., and by the International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR) abroad. The AAA's arbitration services include access to its superior case management services, well-screened expert neutrals who undergo continuous training, and the AAA's Rules and Procedures that govern the various ADR processes. AAA arbitrators possess years of industry-specific knowledge and experience. The AAA's Panel of Arbitrators includes more than 7,000 individuals located throughout the world. Their conduct is guided by the Association's Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes.
  6. As part of the contracting process, the parties must agree to resolve any disputes that arise using Equal Foot's dispute resolution process. That is because Equal Foot may be holding funds in escrow for payment and if the members cannot resolve their dispute themselves, then an impartial person must do so and instruct Equal Foot on what to do with the funds. Parties will agree to initiate a dispute through Direct Talks™, a free communications tool that allows the parties to attempt to resolve the dispute between themselves. Parties will also agree to an Arbitration Plan that is suitable for their contract. By "suitable", it depends on the total value of the contract, the complexity of the transaction, how much the parties want to spend and other factors.
  7. Equal Foot members can elect to have their dispute resolved through online arbitration conducted through AAA utilizing Equal Foot's patent-pending On the Docs™ discovery process. Online Arbitration is fast, efficient and economical. Through On the Docs™, the disputing parties (or their representatives) will submit their entire case online and the two sides will be presented to the arbitrator for adjudication. The arbitrator will base his or her decision solely on the documents submitted. If one party does not participate in submitting their documents, then the arbitrator will decide based on the information provided by the other party. The fees for this arbitration are based on the number of pages submitted by the parties, because the number of pages will dictate the amount of time for the arbitrator to make hir or her decision. Fees must be paid by the parties prior to commencement of the arbitration. If a party does not pay its fees, the other party may pay all fees in order for the arbitration to proceed. In the final award, the arbitrator may apportion fees among the parties as the arbitrator determines is appropriate. Fees are economical due to the nature of the On the Docs™ discovery process. Parties will agree to the fees at the time of entering into their contract. These fees are only charged if arbitration is initiated -- if it is not initiated, then no dispute resolution fees will be assessed. If the parties agree in their contract on a level of online arbitration that proves to be unsuitable for the dispute (such as, the parties choose the least amount of pages and the dispute is complex and requires more pages, or if the parties choose the most amount of pages and the dispute is relatively simple and requires less pages), then the parties can mutually agree to modify their agreed-upon level of online arbitration. Further, if the parties select online arbitration, then for whatever reason they may mutually agree to escalate their dispute to a face-to-face arbitration.

Safety and Security
  1. Access to your account can only be done with your unique customer ID and a password selected by you. This password is encrypted. We recommend that you do not divulge your password to anyone.
  2. You can be assured that your information is secure, consistent with current industry standards. The importance of security for all information associated with our users is of utmost concern to us. Your information is protected in multiple ways. Equal Foot has installed a SSL Certification on our entire website that secures information flowing to and from our site. All of your personal identification and input activities are safe when input on our site. Equal Foot's level of SSL certification is that of "Extended Validation Certificate", which is only available to entities that undergo a thorough independent audit process to authenticate their corporate legal identity, management control and domain control. In addition to those requirements, a validation letter was signed by our legal counsel. Because we have an Extended Validation SSL certificate, whenever you access our site, you will see a padlock icon followed by the "https://" prefix and the name against a green background displayed in the your browser's navigation bar. Click here to for more information about Equal Foot's Safety and Security measures.
  3. We account for member funds completely separate from other company funds through our affiliate, EF Escrow Services LLC. When you transfer funds, the funds are transferred to an account specifically used for transfers. The funds are then transferred from this account into the escrow account. This escrow account does not allow for external deposits or transfers, and all transactions involving this account are monitored and directed by Equal Foot. All of Equal Foot's accounts are FDIC insured. All electronic communication between Equal Foot and our bank and payment processors that includes any member account information is done utilizing secure communications networks and protocols.

Equal Foot's Plans and Pricing
  1. Equal Foot's pricing is simple. We charge a flat fee per contract plus a percentage of the amounts held in escrow. We also charge administrative fees associated with our services which include any fees that we are charged for financial transactions (such as wire fees), as well as fees that are charged for provision of dispute resolution services. Click here to review Equal Foot's current plans and pricing.
  2. Equal Foot's fees and charges are deducted from payments made to the Seller. This is because we assume this as a cost of doing business. The Seller may recoup some or all of these fees if the buyer agrees to pay an "Admin Fee" in their contract. Buyers pay fees for their share of any dispute resolution service, per the amount mutually agreed between the parties.
  3. Buyers can deposit funds into Equal Foot's escrow account by sending a check in the mail or by wire transfer. At this time, Equal Foot is not accepting direct debit or credit card payments into the escrow account. We expect to offer these payment methods over time.

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