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

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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

“You are confident you will get really sound advice from them.”

Chambers and Partners Europe 2021

“Responsive, flexible, efficient, cost-effective and creative.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“They are real specialists in this field and are extremely hard-working.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Noted for particular strength in IP litigation and the licensing of telecoms SEPs.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Bristows’ lawyers are ‘brilliant at communicating and very good team players’.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Very client-focused and good on quality.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“An excellent firm”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Commentators describe the team members as ‘extremely competent and very pragmatic’.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Superb technology law and commercial advice to customers and suppliers of IT and business process services.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Focused on solving problems.”

Legal 500 2021

“The Bristows team is focused on getting to know your business and the objectives you are trying to achieve.”

Legal 500 2021

“They are excellent in managing our internal and external needs.”

Legal 500 2021

“They are cost effective and cost benefit conscious and manage the legal budget closely to your company needs.”

Legal 500 2021

“Bristows lawyers provide us with quick, high quality and to the point advice and come up with business solutions.”

Legal 500 2021

“The entire Bristows TMT team consists of highly skilled professionals, with a business acumen and intimacy, as well as understanding of the legal parameters of our company.”

Legal 500 2021

Recent rankings and awards

Commercial Litigation
Leaders League UK 2020