TECHNOLOGY, OUTSOURCING, AND COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS
NEWS FOR LAWYERS AND SOURCING PROFESSIONALS

Please join us in our Philadelphia office for our annual Technology, Outsourcing & Commercial Contracts Networking Roundtable. The roundtable will feature an in-depth discussion of hot topics relating to the increased connectivity of our businesses, including privacy concerns, data rights, cloud solutions, and contracting for the use of connected devices. Stay connected with us at the networking reception following the discussions.

We hope you’ll join us in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 16, 2020, from 3:30–5:30 pm ET.

Register now >>

In a long-term outsourcing, software as a service (SaaS), or other services agreement, the customer will typically push for a termination right relating to the service provider’s breach, and perhaps for an insolvency event or change in control of the service provider. However, the customer should also consider including the right to terminate for its convenience (without cause), which could cover any of the following situations:

  • The customer is not satisfied with the service provider’s performance under the contract even though the provider is meeting its service level and other performance requirements under the contract.
  • Many alleged breaches by the service provider are initially “black and white” in the view of the customer, but they turn “gray” when the service provider pushes back and alleges nonperformance, nonresponsiveness, lack of cooperation, and the like on the part of the customer. Adding the customer’s right to termination for convenience can avoid the potential dispute over whether the customer has the right to terminate on other grounds.

Morgan Lewis has recently issued several LawFlashes on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, providing a number of resources for businesses across the globe dealing with various compliance challenges and unanswered questions. In this rapidly changing situation, for example, employers must carefully balance concerns related to employee and public safety with protecting employees from unnecessary medical inquiries, harassment, and discrimination.

To help guide companies through this multifaceted public health crisis, Morgan Lewis has launched Responding to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to keep on top of developments as they unfold.

Are you about to sign a service agreement with a third-party service provider under which it will access and use technology of your company? Have you checked your applicable third-party contracts to see if you need any consents? The contracts under which your company uses technology every day, from the mundane to the critical, may contain hidden restrictions on the third party’s access and use for your benefit under the services contract.

There is an endless number of arrangements a customer could have with its third-party service providers, but this Contract Corner will discuss the case where the customer authorizes a service provider to access and use licensed software either while remaining at the customer site, or by moving it to the service provider’s site. More specifically, it explores just some of the issues and language in the customer’s license agreements with those third-party software providers to be checked during pre-signing due diligence.

The US–China trade deal signed on January 15 aims to strengthen intellectual property protection for US intellectual property holders.

The deal increases the scope of actors liable for trade secret misappropriation to include all natural persons, groups of persons, and legal persons. The deal also enumerates additional acts constituting trade secret misappropriation, such as electronic intrusions and a breach or inducement of a breach of duty not to disclose information that is secret or intended to be kept secret. To further strengthen the protection of trade secrets, the deal provides that “China shall prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of undisclosed information, trade secrets, or confidential business information by government personnel or third party experts or advisors in any criminal, civil, administrative, or regulatory proceedings conducted at either the central or sub-central levels of government in which such information is submitted.”

The terms “reseller” and “distributor” are often used interchangeably to describe entities that purchase goods or services from a manufacturer and then distribute or resell such goods or services to retailers and consumers. However, there are some key differences between a distributor and a reseller and important issues to consider in agreements with resellers and distributors.

You signed a long-term deal. It would be embarrassing if, in a few years after signing, the pricing is significantly higher or your service levels are significantly lower than market. Benchmarking provisions are intended to provide a mechanism for ensuring that your pricing and/or service levels are within market (taking into consideration the unique factors applicable to your deal). Set out below are some of the key components of a meaningful benchmarking provision.

Open Banking is an initiative mandated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2017. It is intended to facilitate better competition in the banking sector by mandating protocols that facilitate the secure sharing of customer-related data of the nine largest banks in the United Kingdom (CMA9) with third-party providers (TPPs).

Open Banking is developed and delivered in the United Kingdom by the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE). The OBIE was established by the CMA and is funded by the CMA9. The CMA’s UK Retail Banking Market Investigation Order 2017 (Order), which applies only to the CMA9, requires the CMA9 to provide their customers with the ability to access and share their account data on an ongoing basis with TPPs through the use of specified application programme interfaces (APIs). This compliments the reforms under the EU’s Second Payment Directive (as transposed in the United Kingdom primarily by the Payment Services Regulations 2017), which requires all payment account providers to permit open access to payment accounts for authorized TPPs, but which does not specify the means of access or prescribe the scope of access in any detail.

In this contract corner, we consider the concepts of “good faith” in commercial contracts under English law.

The General Position Under English Law

The notion of good faith is a complex and evolving concept under English law, and it has important implications for those drafting commercial contracts. In contrast to many other civil (e.g., France and Germany) and common (e.g., United States and Australia) law jurisdictions, there is no general doctrine of good faith either in negotiating or in performing a contract. Instead, parties are free to pursue their own self-interests, so long as they do not act in breach of contract. However, the notion of good faith can still impact commercial contracts in three main ways:

We have all heard the horror stories: system implementation deals costing 300% more than the original budget, go-live dates for development projects being way past the scheduled dates, and deliverables that do not meet the customer’s expectations. These are the stories that keep us lawyers up at night. So what can we do in the contract to incent timely, on-budget performance by the vendor? First, there is no substitute for a detailed and well-thought-out requirements document, which provides the roadmap that shapes the design, build, and deployment. Then, while there is no magic bullet, there are numerous contractual mechanisms to be considered that are designed to provide guideposts and checkpoints to enable success.

Set out below are 10 contractual mechanisms for providing meaningful performance commitments and consequences if the commitments are not met. Maybe you will not need to invoke these mechanisms, but having firm rules may help drive good behavior (you know the old adage, “good fences make good neighbors”). As is always the case, the appropriate mechanisms to be used are deal specific, and not all deals or relationships require the full spectrum of contractual commitments set out below (but some do!).