An NDA means Nondisclosure Agreement; it is an agreement between two parties doing business to keep some information concealed between one another. It has legal backing and helps the parties not to release certain information to other people.
So many organizations require you to sign an NDA first before they engage you for contract or project reasons. This is because executing the contract might involve them sharing some specific information with you. Some of the information protected by the NDA are trade secrets, information about customers, business strategy, and any other information that is critical to the business.
Any information that can be disadvantageous to the company (if in the wrong hands) is captured in an NDA. Almost every profession in the corporate world has an NDA guiding its operation, and an example is the consultant NDA. Some of them might not come under the name 'NDA' but can be captured under the terms of contract or agreement.
Signing an NDA as a consultant does not mean that you cannot work for other people, especially if you are an independent consultant. Unless the NDA you signed has this restriction captured in it, you can work on other projects.
This is why reading the statements captured in any document is important, especially for a consultant NDA. Anytime you sign an NDA, have it in mind that you just placed a cloak on the knowledge you have that could be useful for your future work.
A secret today is someone's next version, so until the knowledge is released or made public, you cannot talk about it as a consultant to the firm. Even when released, some secrets remain secrets; an example is a mixture that makes Coca-Cola unique.
There are some NDAs that will cloak your knowledge about the contract until death. Except you do not want to die keeping mute about such knowledge, you must note the timeframe of the NDA you are signing as a consultant.
Such questions must be asked or answered by the NDA. Some NDAs require that whatever was disclosed to you is kept private after the contract, project, or job has ended.
Some give the exception of the fact that you can disclose that information when they have made them public themselves. A consultant NDA in this digital age can request that you erase all documents relating to the project after it has closed. Unlike those days, you have to submit all the documents physically.
In every NDA, including the consultant NDA, there is always a paragraph that talks about the consequences of breaching the agreement. If such does not exist, the whole document will be made void.
Damages caused by breaching such agreements cannot be remedied by a law action. So, when damages occur, instead of paying for it, such a person is compelled to obey the terms of the agreement.
It is best always to read this part when signing an NDA because you can be ordered by the court to do something against your will. This is as opposed to consequences you are familiar with that only involve your finances.
You need to know that every NDA is legal, do not get involved when you do not know what it contains. You can always get a lawyer to help you with confusing statements if it's your first time, or you find an NDA that looks entirely new for you.
Prevention is better than cure; its best to prevent some occurrences than try to solve them. Get help before you sign that consultant NDA.