IT law is primarily defined by its practical rather than its legal subject matter. It is concerned with:
- the compliance of IT systems with legal requirements;
- the management of legal risks arising out of IT systems;
- contracts and agreements relating to IT systems; and
- the resolution of disputes relating to IT systems.
The areas of law that affect legal compliance are wide-ranging. Relevant statutes include the Data Protection Act 1998, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
Strict legal compliance is not the same thing as comprehensive risk management. IT systems may give rise to legal risks under intellectual property law, the law of negligence, the law of privacy and confidentiality, and many other legal areas besides. IT lawyers advise on both the design and operation of IT systems to minimise these risks.
Probably the largest part of IT law in terms of lawyer-hours is invested in contracts and agreements relating to IT: software licence agreements, software development agreements, software maintenance agreements, hardware sale and rental agreements, IT consultancy agreements, system integration agreements, IT outsourcing agreements, ASP and SaaS agreements. The creation of these documents requires a fair understanding of the IT systems in question, as well as the relevant law.
From massive IT contract litigation to summary domain name arbitrations, IT disputes are as diverse as IT itself. IT disputes are sometimes handled by generalist litigators and barristers, but specialists are usually preferable, particularly where complex factual issues arise or where an understanding of the IT industry is important.
If you require assistance with any aspect of IT law, please get in touch. SEQ Legal has particular expertise in web-related IT law and the law relating to software; and our law firm referral partners cover these and other areas of IT law: notably IT outsourcing and litigation.