February 22, 2013

SCL Forum

That it is so strong is largely due to the contributions from participants in the SCL Forum 2012 that took place in September. As you might expect from a Forum with the title ‘Brave New World? The Changing Landscape for IT Law’, things have changed rapidly since the Forum took place. While the Forum itself was an orchestral work of some complexity, following the lead of the baton of its conductor Professor Chris Marsden, the articles in this issue that stem from its participants are more in the way of a jam session from some of the leading participants – following a theme but adding some riffs that are very much of the moment. The end result offers some complex harmony and quite a lot of syncopation. I am grateful to all who contributed (including Graham Smith whose ‘Forum piece’ on Internet regulation appeared in our last issue) and to Chris Marsden and Caroline Gould for their help in getting the contributions in on time.

Of Then and Now

The issue also includes two articles, from Richard Morgan and Sir Henry Brooke, that recall SCL’s earlier days as it enters its 40th anniversary year. It is facile to point out that SCL is a very different organisation from SCL in the period of which they write. But the objectives of educating, lawyers and others, about the issues that arise from what Richard Morgan calls the ‘legal revolution’ that computers have produced remain. Nothing could encapsulate that better than articles in this issue, from the edgy policy calls in ‘Regulating Code: Towards a Prosumer Law’, through the comprehensive niche guide that is ‘Multi-vendor Outsourcing: Approaches to Liability Allocation’ to the crucial briefing in ‘A New Approach to Disclosure’.

The convenient lie that 40 is the new 30 edges towards truth in the case of SCL. I am not sure that I have ever known a more dynamic time for the Society, with a really exciting list of forthcoming events (headlined by the SCL Annual Lecture from Professor Nigel Shadbolt in March). The web site continues to attract a level of visits and hits that would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago – and no wonder when my chief anxiety about its content is that brilliant contributions published there are too often upstaged by a welter of more new material within days. It is a great tribute to the Society and its members that so many are prepared to contribute (though it would be nice to see more comments and debate online). I suspect that the SCL dynamism will long continue, even to the point where the wild lie that 60 is the new 40 might carry a grain of truth.


As I write, the SCL Twitter feed @computersandlaw edges towards gaining a thousand followers. I am confident that we will have passed that mark by the time you read this. But I continue to notice that, while much of the IT law world at large knows that following SCL on Twitter is worthwhile, not all SCL members seem to have formed the same view. It remains the case that most of those following are not SCL members and that most SCL members are not followers. I know that there is some soundly based suspicion of Twitter and the diversions to trivia like horsemeat and Pope jokes that it can bring with it, but SCL does not do jokes on Twitter (though I am often tempted) or indulge in celebrity gossip so you can follow us safely and spread your twitter wings once you feel comfortable in that environment. It is free after all!