LSSA Announces Changes to Code of Practice

February 24, 2009

The LSSA, the UK industry body for legal systems developers and vendors, announced on 24 February that it has revised its Code of Practice with regard to the provision of hosted services, as well as the safety and integrity of customers’ data. The revised Code will also cover the facilitation of data formats which can be accessed by the customer, as well as new rules regarding how data transfer is handled.
Although most of the Code’s general requirements – as well as the rules governing working relationships between members, and the guidelines regarding the handling of complaints – have remained unchanged, the LSSA felt that some of the specific requirements set out in its Code of Practice needed to be amended.

In particular, where services are supplied by means of a hosted service, the Code of Practice now states that all Members must take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety and integrity of their customers’ data, and must also make available to customers a copy of their data upon request, both during the term of the contract and at the point of termination. In addition, LSSA members will be obligated to supply the customer’s data at the end of the contract (in an agreed format) free of charge.

LSSA members must also make clear in what format data will be supplied (or made available for download) and must inform customers at the outset if they need to have particular software in order to read the data.  Also, in the event of contract termination, LSSA members will need to make clear how long the data will be retained by them.

LSSA members who provide customers with physical media backups will now also need to make clear at what cost (if any), and at what frequency, requests for backups can be made.  Members must also ensure the safe transit of data between themselves and the customer, and also ensure that the data is supplied in a reasonable time when requested.

‘The LSSA is committed to ensuring that law firms gain the maximum benefit from their selected software solutions, so the ability to provide our members with very clear and specific guidelines is vitally important,’ says Dominic Cullis, Chairman of the LSSA.  ‘By agreeing to abide by the LSSA’s Code of Practice, our members are accepting a number of important obligations that will help us to promote the highest levels of service and quality to the legal profession.’

The LSSA aims to set and maintain professional standards within the legal software industry. It also manages areas of mutual interest between lawyers and software providers generally. It currently represents most of the leading UK suppliers in this sector.