IFCLA Conference

April 30, 2004

As Nigel Miller observes in his introductory remarks in the full programme for this event, computer law issues are especially likely to cross jurisdictional boundaries and IT lawyers need to know something of the law and practice outside their home jurisdiction to be fully effective. This conference provides an opportunity to acquire that knowledge in wonderful surroundings – and with unmatchable networking opportunities. Social attractions aside, the Conference menu is full of meat.

After Professor Dutton, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, has delivered his keynote address on “iron laws of cyberspace? Computers, law and the social sciences”, the IFCLA Conference programme focuses on three topics where mixing the input from international experts should produce special value.

International Outsourcing

Outsourcing has become the hot topic of the day. International outsourcing is the white-hot core of the hot topic.

The Conference will first examine the future prospects as Duncan Aitchison of TPI and John Yates of v-lex identify the commercial and legal trends in mega deals. That session will set the tone for later sessions in acknowledging that commercial realities drive legal requirements. Certainly commercial awareness is likely to be a major feature of Robert Zahler’s session on “Evolving sourcing through value-chain analysis” as such analysis is particularly useful in outsourcing decision-making. It is vital to understand the links in order to optimise one’s decisions and identify cost advantages and any potential cost and differentiation advantages. Lawyers who do not grasp that approach, and its jargon, risk falling out of the loop. The final session of the first morning is on Offshoring and gives SCL members an opportunity to hear how things look from the other side. The session is presented by Sajai Singh of J. Sagar Associates in India.

The afternoon session continues the theme with a presentation from Richard Raysman on “International technology joint ventures” and Georg Briner’s examination of global supply relationships.

Data Protection

European issues dominate the Friday session on data protection with speakers from the UK (Richard Thomas, the Data Protection Commissioner), France, Sweden and Belgium complimenting an opening contribution from the EU Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx. But Ronald Plesser will also be covering “Hot privacy issues in the United States”.

This session, chaired by Christopher Millard, presents an irresistible opportunity to widen horizons in an area too often perceived as a one-Act issue. The truth is that even many smaller-scale enterprises now have to look beyond the confines of the Data Protection Act if they are going to operate effectively.


Nobody needs persuading that these areas benefit from an international context. Speakers from the UK, Canada and the Netherlands focus on the Internet’s jurisdictional and enforcement problems and associated issues.

George Takach has suggestions for creating enforceable online agreements and Graham Smith will consider whether directing and targeting can be the answer to jurisdiction problems. Clive Davies and C. Ian Kyer look respectively at entertainment and information licensing and Internet gaming and Lokke Moerel closes the conference with his views on e-payment systems in Europe. The session also includes an examination of accessibility and Web site design issues from Geoffrey Clarke.

Other Topics

Gene Landy from the USA and Dinant Oosterbaan from the Netherlands debate the case for and against open source licensing. It is easy to forget that a decision about open source is affected by the legislative and judicial outlook in many parts of the world as no barriers can be applied to the distribution of the open source material. There is also coverage of information and communications law in China from Mathew Murphy of the MMLC Group and an examination of the various dispute resolution options for IT contracts from Harry Small. Harry Small is a speaker familiar to many SCL members and a deservedly valued contributor but here the international nature of the audience gives his topic a special spice and resonance.

The guest speaker at Thursday’s gala dinner is Professor Richard Susskind.