The Society for Computers and Law (“SCL”) has been working on a new adjudication procedure for use in technology disputes. Its remit is wide-ranging, covering “any dispute arising from a contract for the provision of tech-related goods and services including software development contracts, outsourcing arrangements, systems integration contracts, IT consultancy contracts, software licensing agreements, blockchain/smart contracts and cloud computing contract”.
Some of the key features of the proposed procedure are:
- it is a voluntary procedure, designed to take no more than three months
- the adjudicator’s decision will only be provisionally binding, but any subsequent proceedings must be commenced within six months
- the SCL is to set up and maintain a panel of adjudicators – comprised of lawyers and IT specialists
- Parties are required to act in good faith and co-operate
- the procedure is due to be launched in Q4 2019.
On the face of it, there do seem to be some advantages to the use of adjudication in these types of dispute and it is something which could be a useful dispute resolution tool in appropriate circumstances. The big challenge here is going to be getting parties to include provision for the technology adjudication procedure in their contracts. As it is not currently proposed to be underpinned by statute (in the way that adjudication in construction contracts is), it remains to be seen the extent to which it will be used. Similarities with the introduction of adjudication for professional negligence disputes spring to mind – something which at this stage there doesn’t appear to have been wide uptake for.
A copy of the SCL’s proposals can be found here.