Book Review: IT Contracts and Dispute Management

Laurence Eastham reviews this book from Steven Baker, Lawrence Akka QC and Rachel Glass

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.

Published: 2018-06-22T11:10:00


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