Bristows is trusted by leading providers of information technology services and their customers to help them manage the issues that arise when their commercial relationships have stopped working.

We deal with projects which are delayed or when there are disputes about the required scope, quality and standards. Our expertise includes contract management, effective escalation and problem solving. We have deep experience in the issues that often arise in these contracts, such as:

  • quality and delay disputes
  • scope change
  • change management
  • development methodologies
  • issue escalation and exit
  • software copyright and licensing
  • data loss
  • breach of confidence.

With experts in software licensing, projects and services, our team is known for its ability to get a grip on demanding and technically difficult disputes. We have years of experience handling some of the largest and most complex cases. We support our clients by helping them to identify and manage risks early, to anticipate change and to make the most of their contractual or commercial positions, including through renegotiation or formal legal action.

We also specialise in commercial issues relating to the provision of services and online platforms, such as liability for copyright infringement and the regulatory and jurisdictional points which often arise in the context of claims involving internet companies and websites.

Whilst we are experienced litigators, our starting point is to explore our clients’ commercial options and how to resolve a dispute before it escalates.

We use advanced technology and reporting tools to help our clients to get an early understanding of their position so that they can proactively develop strategies to match their risk appetite and commercial objectives.

Key contacts

Anna Cook

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Angela Fouracre

Contact

Robert Graham

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Experience

Pursuing software licence claims: Acting for a software vendor to pursue its audit rights in respect of various disputes involving strong evidence of software misuse. 

Acting for a software vendor to pursue its audit rights in respect of various disputes involving strong evidence of software misuse.

 

We drafted the terms of access for the vendor and engaged with experts to ensure that the evidence of the software misuse was properly and independently captured. We commenced proceedings and, using the threat of injunction, managed to obtain undertakings to prevent further software abuse and to disclose relevant information. This material formed the basis for a settlement shortly thereafter.

Software project dispute: Acting for a major manufacturer in respect of a dispute arising from the supplier's failure to deliver software relating to the identification and tracking of inventory. 

Acting for a major manufacturer in respect of a dispute arising from the supplier's failure to deliver software relating to the identification and tracking of inventory.

 

The supplier had threatened to stop work unless payment was made, which was a serious breach (a renunciation) of the agreement. We helped our client to terminate the agreement for breach and worked with them to negotiate favourable exit terms.

Renegotiating disputed payments in an ongoing project: Helping a client that was owed a very large sum of money by its customer, and whose ability to meet its commitments to pay its subcontractors was thereby threatened.

Helping a client that was owed a very large sum of money by its customer, and whose ability to meet its commitments to pay its subcontractors was thereby threatened.

 

Our client bore the contractual risk of non-performance and its subcontractors were threatening to suspend work. We worked with our client’s finance director and in-house legal team to create a business case to persuade the customer that, by withholding payment, its actions would ultimately be self-defeating.  In parallel, we also prepared formal notifications warning the subcontractors that they were not entitled to suspend performance and to inform the customer that non-payment was a material breach of contract.

We then worked with our client to agree a settlement which changed the scope of the project, and introduced firmer deadlines and payment commitments. Our client obtained the overdue payment and we drafted the settlement terms to define the agreed steps and to settle the outstanding disputes.

Dispute arising from a failing IT system: Assisting a global client with a failing legacy IT system that did not meet its needs.

Assisting a global client with a failing legacy IT system that did not meet its needs.

 

Our client's legacy supplier was also in breach of numerous services obligations. The issues arising from the breaches were affecting our client's ability to efficiently run its internal operations. This meant that our client’s subject matter experts were overstretched and preoccupied with the disputes.

Bristows undertook and coordinated a large scale fact-finding exercise across the business in numerous locations (including outside the UK) to gather evidence from the in-house legal team and also from the technical teams and users. To facilitate this process, we put in place automatic systems to assist with efficient document collection and review so that this could be done under pressure and to tight deadlines, without compromising accuracy. 

We created and managed teams to analyse the evidence and use it to formulate claims against the supplier. We then assisted the client in its negotiations and dialogue with the supplier. As a result of our project management, our client was able to redeploy its key staff members to work on the project.  We were able to rapidly build chronologies and factual summaries for the purpose of litigation, running a streamlined, cost-effective process. This enabled our client’s in-house lawyers to focus on our client’s strategic objectives: to manage their internal stakeholders and to focus on the business risks. 

Exit management, BPO, change management: Advising a supplier about the delayed delivery of services under a business process outsourcing (“BPO”) contract.

Advising a supplier about the delayed delivery of services under a business process outsourcing (“BPO”) contract.

 

Despite extensive engagement with our client’s in-house legal team, our client’s customer refused to enter into any change documentation. Therefore, by the time we were instructed, the services did not resemble the contract description and the documents did not fairly reflect the extent of the customer's missed dependencies and changes.

The contract required that, as a next step, the supplier had to invest in several major new initiatives to transform the services. However, until these were delivered, the contract was loss-making, costing the supplier millions of pounds each month.

Bristows helped the supplier’s legal team to identify its most persuasive arguments and to plan a strategy to engage with and confront the customer. This direct and careful approach helped the supplier to bring the disputes to a speedy resolution. Our client was able to agree a settlement and some common objectives with the customer to reduce the scope of the contract and to begin a consensual exit.  As part of this process, we also helped our client to insist on better communication and change management to instil better discipline on the customer during the exit period.

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What others say

“They have a clear understanding of what our business wants to achieve and that underpins all their advice. They know when to involve the business stakeholders and are able to tailor their approach to that audience and suggest solutions that take key business drivers into account.”

Chambers and Partners 2024

“Bristows has a comprehensive IT practice with powerful resources for major commercial transactions and complex litigation. It advises many of the world’s leading technology companies, and also sophisticated blue-chip buyers of IT services. It is especially adept at providing counsel on the most current and cutting-edge issues in the technology space. Bristows houses experienced advisers on digital advertising and cloud computing matters.”

Chambers and Partners 2024

“Notable experience in commercial disputes involving the technology, life sciences and consumer products sectors.”

Legal 500 2024

“Bristows is known for its deep bench of high-calibre litigators with supreme expertise in contentious patent, trade mark, designs and copyright matters. The team is particularly sought after for biosimilars and telecommunications litigation, and is frequently instructed for standard-essential patent-related disputes. The Bristows IP team is also distinguished for its work on the commercialisation of IP at the vanguard of life sciences and technology, and is additionally recommended for its trade mark prosecution service.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“Their advice is always practical, realistic and adaptable.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“Bristows have an incredible depth and breadth of experience.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“Bristows has a comprehensive IT practice with powerful resources for major commercial transactions and complex litigation. It advises many of the world’s leading technology companies, and also sophisticated blue-chip buyers of IT services. It is especially adept at providing counsel on the most current and cutting-edge issues in the technology space.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“With their wealth of experience, most questions can be handled with a quick call.”

Legal 500 2023

“I value the practical nature of the advice the team gives.”

Legal 500 2023

“The media and entertainment team at Bristows combines the best of in-depth practice area knowledge with pragmatic, client-focused advice. They are a fantastic extension of our in-house legal team, and whenever I reach out to them, it always makes life easier.”

Legal 500 2023

“A renowned expert on issues arising around advertising and brand protection.”

Legal 500 2023

“The practice at Bristows LLP rests firmly on its pillars of advertising, brand protection, and film/TV production where it represents clients from these sub-sectors in both contentious and non-contentious matters.”

Legal 500 2023

“The team at Bristows strike the perfect balance between excellent technical legal knowledge and industry insight and experience. They are able to distil often complex legal positions into easy to digest and practical advice. The strategic value they are able to add sets them apart from their competitors.”

Legal 500 2023

“Their understanding of the industry and therefore ability to provide tailored advice is great. They also take a pragmatic view, such that in negotiation with providers they focus on what is important and likely, rather than focusing on theoretical, pedantic legal points that have no” probability of happening in practice.”

Legal 500 2023

“The team at Bristows is second to none in the UK technology law space. They are accessible, responsive, highly knowledgeable and experienced and are a go-to team for any complex, high value or innovative IT deal.”

Legal 500 2023

Recent rankings and awards

Telecommunications - Band 4

Information Technology & Outsourcing - Band 1

IT and Telecoms - Tier 1

Commercial Litigation (mid-market) - Tier 3

Information Technology and Outsourcing - Band 1

IT and Telecoms - Tier 1

Commercial Litigation (mid-market) - Tier 3

Information Technology - Band 1

Commercial Litigation