Information Technology

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The Scottish Courts have given an interesting decision in relation to IT contracts, relating to the allocation of delivery risk between supplier and customer and the importance of doing what it says in the contract.

In David MacBrayne Limited v Atos IT Services (UK) Limited (2018), Atos, a supplier, had entered into an agreement with David MacBrayne Limited to supply a digital platform. The engagement was not successful and the parties claimed and counter-claimed against each other for material breach of the contract (amongst other things).

Customer Dependencies – Whose Responsibility is Delivery?

IT contracts will often include dependencies on customers to provide the supplier with information/documentation, some negotiated more than others.

In this case, the dependency was on the customer to use all reasonable endeavours to provide such documentation, data and/or information that the supplier reasonably requested and which was necessary to perform its obligations under the contract.

The question was whether this obliged the customer to provide the supplier with detailed specifications of their requirements in sufficient time to allow the supplier to comply with their obligations under the contract. In other words, to what extent should the customer be pro-active in telling the supplier what to do and thereby share delivery risk.

The Court said such general obligations are indicative of a responsive obligation (i.e. respond to queries from the supplier) as opposed to an obligation on the customer to be proactive in setting out their requirements. The Court said such obligations did not displace the obligation of the supplier to be primarily responsible for ascertaining the requirements for the service.

When negotiating IT transactions, it is very important to carefully consider (and negotiate) the scope of dependencies. While this decision points to a pragmatic approach by the courts which favours the customer, the very existence of general (or worse, unclear) dependencies can lead to disputes becoming more protracted and costly than they need to be.

Delay – Managing The Fall Out

The contract required the supplier to provide notice and follow a particular procedure in order to deal with delays. Here that process wasn’t followed. The supplier said it instead opted for a ‘co-operative and facilitative approach’ rather than ‘reaching for the contract’.

The Court said that the supplier was in breach for not following the procedure and this did not assist the supplier in its defence of the claim for material breach for delay. Ultimately, damages were awarded against it.

The judgment of the Court in this case highlights the inherent danger of choosing to ignore the procedural requirements in a contract; it will make claims all the more difficult to successfully prove or defend. The more removed from the letter of the contract the parties conduct is, the more uncertain their legal positions. It is essential to properly manage contracts.

 

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The Law Reform Commission has published an Issues Paper on Privilege for Reports of Court Proceedings under the Defamation Act 2009. The Paper examines and make recommendations on whether changes should be made to the Defamation Act 2009 relating to absolute privilege for reports of court proceedings. Section 17 of the Defamation Act 2009 currently provides that there is absolute privilege (i.e. complete immunity) from a defamation action where the claim is about a “fair and accurate report of proceedings” heard in any court in Ireland, Northern Ireland, or certain European and international courts.

Continue Reading Reports of court proceedings in blogs and social media may no longer be immune from defamation claims

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The Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, has confirmed that plans to appoint a Digital Safety Commissioner for Ireland (DSC) will go ahead in 2018. The DSC will act as an ‘Internet regulator’, with powers of enforcement and responsibility for a ‘notice and takedown’ regime, to ensure the online safety of Internet users.

Continue Reading Digital Safety Commissioner to be appointed in 2018

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On 26 July 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered its Opinion that the draft Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement between the EU and Canada is not compatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter) and may not be concluded in its current form. The Opinion follows a referral by the European Parliament to the CJEU and is the first time the Court has been requested to examine the compatibility of an international agreement with the EU Charter.

Continue Reading EU-Canada Passenger Name Records Agreement declared incompatible with EU Fundamental Rights

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The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) has recently provided its Opinion 2/2017 on data processing at work. The Opinion, adopted on 8 June 2017, highlights the risks and challenges of processing employees’ personal data in light of new technologies. While the Opinion focuses on the current data protection regime, it also considers some of the obligations arising under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from 25 May 2018.

Continue Reading Article 29 Working Party Opinion on Data Processing at Work

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has handed down a reference for a preliminary ruling in Case C-610/15 (Stichtin Brein v Ziggo BV, XS4ALL Internet BV), holding that making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works may constitute an infringement of copyright.

Continue Reading CJEU issues ‘The Pirate Bay’ judgment

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The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) (consisting of data protection regulators from the 28 Member States) has adopted an Opinion 01/2017 on the proposed e-Privacy Regulation, which will repeal and replace the e-Privacy Directive. Whilst the WP29 welcomes the proposal, it identifies several points of concern, and sets out how the proposal can be improved.

Continue Reading WP29 gives lukewarm welcome to proposed e-Privacy Regulation

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In Rolf Anders Daniel Pihl v Sweden, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed with Swedish authorities that a non-profit association was not liable for anonymous defamatory comments posted on its blog. The ECHR held that the Swedish authorities’ refusal to hold the owner of the blog liable for the anonymous defamatory online comment did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

Continue Reading Blog owner not liable for anonymous defamatory online comments

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The Department of Justice and Equality have published a policy document on amending the law relating to the interception of communications. The purpose of interception legislation is to assist in the fight against organised crime and to protect the security of the State.

Irish legislation relating to interception is out-of-date and needs to be amended to provide for lawful interception of email and other forms of communication over the internet. Interception is controlled, to a limited extent, by the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act 1983, and the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications (Regulation) Act 1993. That legislation is restricted to Telecoms and Postal Service providers (i.e. voice calls, text messages and postal packets). 

The Government intends to introduce approximately 50 amendments to the current regime, with the primary aim of ensuring that communications services delivered over the internet are covered by our lawful interception legislation.  Accordingly, the definition of “information society services” will be amended to cover “internet referencing services, social media“, and “any other entity providing a publicly available means of communication over an electronic communications network.” The definition of “interception” will also be amended to reflect modern communications characteristics.  It will essentially be “an action, the effect of which is to make some or all of the content of a communication available to a person“. 

Continue Reading New legislation on interception of communications

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The High Court in Muwema v Facebook Ireland Ltd [2016] IEHC 519 held that Facebook had no duty to remove defamatory content posted by an anonymous third party. Justice Binchy did, however, make a Norwich Pharmacal order requiring Facebook to disclose the identity and location of the person operating the page involved.

Continue Reading ISP not required to remove defamatory statements