Legal skills

IT Law

Whether a company is wanting to implement a new solution for its own purposes or it is tasked with doing so on behalf of a client company, IT and telecoms projects are a hugely important part of doing business. Drafting, editing and negotiating a quality contract is a way of controlling the risks in a project, balancing new commitments by the parties against the resources required to guarantee a successful outcome. Above and beyond their own individual specialisations, the lawyers at Derriennic Associates have all been trained on this “common pillar”, which forms one of the foundations underpinning our work as new technology advisers : drafting and negotiating IT contracts, from the simplest to the most complex, in English and French alike. Our approach to the subject is a blend of operational pragmatism and strict editing. In other words we do not draw up a contract “to please us as jurists”, but instead, we seek to deliver an operationally efficient tool. Our priority is always to produce a robust, effective, durable contact which is perfectly tailored to its intended purpose. Our prime objective is to safeguard our clients’ commitments, while at the same time controlling the cost of our advice and ensuring that requests are dealt with promptly, at a consistent service level. Backed up by our in-depth knowledge of the subject and the players in the sector, coupled with long years of experience in both advice and litigation in IT, Derriennic Associates is called upon every day to support its clients in drafting and negotiating contractual instruments of all kinds, in particular in the fields of banking, stock markets, insurance, transport, tourism, industry (automotive, electricity, publishing, smart cards), energy distribution, military electronics and public procurement. Our clients are private-law players such as publishers, integrators and service companies and major accounts, as well as public entities. We offer back-office services as well as working alongside you or on your behalf with your contractual partners in the framework of contractual problems both here in France and internationally.  
Derriennic Associates has historically been a major, crucial player in IT disputes. Indeed, over the course of some thirty years, Derriennic Associates has built up genuine expertise in this area, handling both pre-litigation procedures as part of monitoring major IT projects, and judicial litigation itself. A particular feature of IT disputes is that they not only combine complex technical problems with tactical and strategy considerations in highly involved cases, they are also heavily impacted by the issue of the legal expert advice which generally precedes the debate before the courts. It is thus the role of the lawyer to act as a genuine integrator, with the task of marrying up the contributions of our clients’ in-house teams and the expert counsel assisting them in such a way as to combine facts, technique and law. Derriennic Associates has a wealth of experience in IT disputes, and a perfect understanding of the various aspects of such cases, being totally invested in the expert legal opinions for the sake of achieving the best outcome. Yet despite its legendary determination, Derriennic Associates is also a passionate defender of alternative ways of settling disputes, particularly through mediation, and will always prefer an amicable settlement wherever possible.  
These services kick in after the contract has been negotiated and signed, and they are designed to accompany our clients in managing the monitoring of major IT projects. In many cases, even if a contract has been perfectly negotiated, a company stands to lose all the advantages it has conferred if the project which follows on from it is not managed sufficiently rigorously. And vice versa. So what matters is to make every effort to safeguard the smooth running of those projects to the maximum extent possible:
  • by regularly monitoring them
  • by taking the best advantage of the contract
  • by handling difficulties at as early a stage as possible, so as to avoid litigation or – where it is unavoidable – to put our client in the best possible position to tackle it.
Our long experience in handling IT disputes has made us particularly well aware of the “critical instants” in a project. The ability to identify these and manage them in a timely manner is crucial in making sure our clients’ projects have the very best chances of success, as well as reinforcing their position should they need to cope with a phase of disputes or discussions with a view to a settlement or contractual amendments. This project monitoring will typically take the following form:
  • Before the project gets underway: Making the operational teams aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the contract that has been signed. Because the team that negotiated the contract is often not the one that will be implementing it, we think it is important to bring those two teams together and make the operational team familiar with the sensitive areas of the contract and the various potential approaches. This gives us the opportunity to help define the processes which need to be deployed to manage those sensitive points.
  • After the project is up and running: Involvement ahead of the meetings or milestones in the project. The progress of a project is marked by meetings (monitoring committees, project committees and strategic committees) and key stages, which usually involve discussions and the advance preparation of documents outlining the points which have been progressed, and what still needs to be done and any difficulties, along with suggested solutions or workarounds. On rereading these preparatory documents, we will suggest the most appropriate way of framing the issues, always from the dual standpoint of an operational and contractual approach.
  • Regular status updates with the project management and/or the general management where the latter is involved.
  • Handling of alerts, involvement in the important exchanges in the project.
Team : Georges JENSELME, François-Pierre LANI, Pierre-Yves MARGNOUX, Alexandre FIEVEE, Bruno DUCOULOMBIER, Emmanuel BENOIT, Géraldine PACAUT, Sophie DUPERRAY, Alice ROBERT, Gaétan DUFOULON, Carole FRANCO, Aurélien KAOUS, Audrey MAC GARRY, Clara PAYAN, Jules de PERTHUIS, Camille ROD, Marie SEVIN,