Book Review: IT Contracts and Dispute Management

June 21, 2018

The full title of this book is ‘IT Contracts and Dispute Management:
A Practitioner’s Guide to the Project Lifecycle’. It is a different approach –
and a very refreshing one.

The authors say that the book is the product of ‘painful
professional experience’ and that shines through. They have attempted, largely
successfully, to break down the stages of a major technology project into
bite-sized chunks and address the issues that arise. While the authors’ stated
aim is to address the legal issues, the truth is that some of the value of the
book relates to project organisation – and I see that as a positive.

Some of the chapters are pretty straightforward contract law
with an IT context added in – Chapter 2B on Misrepresentation being a prime
example – and are not much different than other works with more traditional
aims. And the back cover makes the overblown claim that the book is ‘the only
published work in this area relating to English law’ when many other works have
dealt with pretty much every aspect that is covered here. But, putting
annoyance with that claim to one side, this work really is fresh and original
and fulfils a real need.

When I am explaining what I see as the ideal approach to an
article for Computers & Law, I usually say something about clear analysis
of the law placed in a practical tech law context. That’s the approach that
shines through this book. I would happily host snippets from this book in the magazine.
The authors, Steven Baker from Cadwalder, Wickersham & Taft LLP, Lawrence
Akka QC of 20 Essex St and Rachel Glass from Bird & Bird, are to be
congratulated on conceiving and maintaining a clear and fresh perspective.

I especially liked the material on ‘Managing evolution’
(6.18 to 6.22), Bug tolerance (8.05 to 8.09), Dispute boards (15.51 on) and
Lost benefit (17.50 on). I am even prepared to forgive the cod-Tolstoy at 11.01
(‘all happy technology projects are similar; each unhappy technology project is
unhappy in its own way’ – which is not only disrespectful to Tolstoy but is not
even true).

I heartily recommend this book for newbies to tech law and
for the less experienced – reading and absorbing the lessons here will turbo-charge
your level of knowledge to the level of the wizened old hack. But I really
think that it has something for even the most experienced – at the very least,
you will enjoy nodding along. I am delighted to see that the ebook version is
very reasonably priced.

IT Contracts and Dispute Management: A Practitioner’s Guide
to the Project Lifecycle
is published by Edward Elgar (486 pp, ISBN 978 1 78471
011 8 or ISBN 978 1 78471 012 5 (ebook). The list price is £145 for the
hardback but Elgar have it at £130.50 and the ebook version goes below £30,
depending on format.

Laurence Eastham is Editor of Computers & Law.