Law & Jurisdiction Archives

SaaS Agreements – Brexit – Amendments to Terms and Conditions

SaaS suppliers and SaaS customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect of “Brexit” upon the terms of their existing SaaS agreements, particularly where contracts are subject to English law or SaaS suppliers or customers are located within the UK. Below is a summary of the main issues that SaaS suppliers need to be aware of that may result in problems arising now or in the future with the terms of their existing SaaS agreements.

Territory

Where the EU or the EEA is used:

  • To define a territory in which rights are granted to the parties in a SaaS agreement, for example countries in which a SaaS reseller may resell SaaS services; or
  • As a general concept, for example in relation to the countries in which a data centre must be located;

The wording may need to be adapted to ensure that this includes or excludes the UK (as necessary).

The use of “EU” or “EEA” is of particular importance where rights are being granted for specific countries, some of which may be exclusive rights or where the applicable law depends upon the location of the SaaS customers being within or outside the EU/EEA.

Applicable Law

English law is often chosen as the applicable law in international SaaS agreements. Even after “Brexit” this position should not change as English law:

  • Will still be one of the most flexible laws with few mandatory restrictions on liability and other contractual obligations;
  • Historically forms the basis of local law in many countries worldwide; and
  • Is more similar to US laws and legal concepts than other European country’s laws.

Force Majeure

Force Majeure clauses set out special rules that apply if something beyond a party’s reasonable control effects that party’s ability to comply with its contractual obligations. Depending on how a SaaS supplier’s force majeure clause is worded “Brexit” could be considered to be a force majeure event. In most SaaS agreements, a force majeure event entitles the non-breaching party to terminate the SaaS agreement, without penalty and this could be used by a unhappy SaaS customer looking for a reason to terminate the SaaS agreement early.

Application of existing EU based law

Some EU laws apply to the UK directly, for example: interest on late payments and compensation for the termination of commercial agents. Following a Brexit, the application of such laws and UK compliance with such laws may change depending upon the exact circumstances of the Brexit and some laws will still apply extra-territorially to the UK despite a Brexit.

Compliance with new EU based law

Prior to the UK actually formally leaving the EU, the EU will continue to make laws that apply in the UK and the UK will be bound by any new laws at least until Brexit is complete. For example: the UK’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will automatically apply from the 25th of May 2018 but the UK government may then remove the GDPR from English law or adapt its terms after “Brexit” under English law.

Identifying Potential Issues

While there is currently no immediate need for SaaS suppliers to amend existing SaaS agreement terms, as the government’s “Brexit” strategy has not been finalised or published, SaaS suppliers should be aware of the issues and should now be:

  • Reviewing existing SaaS agreements to identify potential problems; and
  • Addressing problems that are identified within any new SaaS agreements or renewals of existing SaaS agreements entered into with SaaS customers in the interim.

Help

Irene Bodle is an IT lawyer specialising in SaaS, with over 14 years experience dealing with SaaS, cloud computing matters and IT law issues. If you require assistance with any SaaS agreements, cloud computing matters or any other IT legal issues please contact me at:

irene.bodle@bodlelaw.com
www.bodlelaw.com

To register for my newsletter click here

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SaaS Agreements – Essential Elements

The following legal issues should be included in any SaaS agreement, whether you are a SaaS supplier or a SaaS customer.

Software Licence

Access to the software should be limited to the term of the SaaS agreement. Once the SaaS agreement expires or terminates the software licence should automatically terminate.

If the SaaS customer is a global entity, specify which companies or entities may access the SaaS software, in which territories and the number of users. Identify the specific purposes for which the software may be accessed. Name any third parties who will be permitted access to the SaaS software i.e. outsourcing providers or clients of the SaaS customer.

Intellectual Property Rights – IPR

The SaaS supplier should retain ownership of all IPR in the software and services it provides. The SaaS customer should retain ownership of all IPR in its systems and data. The SaaS agreement should specifically state that the source code remains owned by the SaaS supplier. The SaaS customer should grant the SaaS supplier the right to use its IPRs for the term of the SaaS agreement i.e. display its logos and copyrighted information.

Applicable Law, Jurisdiction & Language

State which law applies to the SaaS agreement and which courts will deal with any disputes arising from it. In international SaaS agreements make sure that you specify in which language the dispute will be dealt with, and if the SaaS agreement is in more than one language, which language prevails if there is a discrepancy between the two versions.

Return of Data

At the end of the SssS agreement the SaaS customer’s data should be returned. The format in which the data is to be returned and payment for this service should be agreed in advance.  Additionally the parties can agree that the Saas supplier will provide assistance in transferring SaaS customer data to a new supplier – in return for payment for this service.

Data Protection

The SaaS supplier is the data processor and the SaaS customer is the data controller. Under UK data protection law different rules apply to the data controller and the data processor. The SaaS supplier is obliged to process data in accordance with the SaaS customer’s instructions and should protect itself against claims from third parties that such processing was illegal. Likewise, the SaaS customer will also need to protect itself against claims from third parties caused by the SaaS supplier not processing data in accordance with its instructions or the terms of the SaaS agreement.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

This sets out the hosting, support and maintenance services being provided to the SaaS customer by the SaaS supplier. The SLA should specify where the data centre is located, who is operating it, what security, backup and disaster recovery procedures are in place. Support hours and support services for dealing with hosting problems and software problems should be identified and documented and the procedure for dealing with with upgrades and maintenance to the software should be specified. The particular details will depend on the amount being paid for the hosting, support and maintenance and the purpose for which the software is being used.

Escrow

Specify who the owner of the source code is, as it may not be the supplier i.e. the holding company of the supplier. State whether or not the customer can enter into an  agreement with a third party to hold the source code in escrow.  Include the name of the escrow agent and who will be responsible for the costs of the escrow agreement and any annual renewals.

Help

Irene Bodle is an IT lawyer specialising in SaaS, with over 14 years experience dealing with SaaS, cloud computing matters and IT law issues. If you require assistance with any SaaS agreements, cloud computing matters or any other IT legal issues please contact me at:

irene.bodle@bodlelaw.com
www.bodlelaw.com

To register for my newsletter click here

______________________________________________________

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Website Legal Requirements – Ecommerce

Does your website comply with the various legal requirements in the UK?

Below, I have set out the main legal requirements (including some optional recommendations) that you should be complying with.

Mandatory Requirements

About Us/Contact Information

You must provide the following information in an easily accessible position on your website:

  • your legal name i.e. XYZ Ltd
  • your geographical address
  • contact details i.e. telephone number, fax number and email address
  • which country your business is registered in and the registration number
  • details of any supervisory body which regulates your business i.e. the FSA. For regulated bodies more detailed information is required.
  • where you are registered for VAT and your VAT number
  • clear details of prices and whether or not delivery and/or tax is included

Registration under the Data Protection Act

If you collect any personal data on your website – i.e. email address, name or address of a living individual, you will be processing personal data and must register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act. It is a criminal offence not to register.

Privacy Policy

If you are collecting, storing or processing personal data you need to set out how and why you are doing this to comply with the 8 principles of the Data Protection Act. In particular if you are sending marketing emails to potential customers you need to ensure that you have obtained specific consent, BEFORE such emails are sent. Consent should be covered in your privacy policy and the registration process on your website.

Disabled Access to your Web Site

If you offer goods or services on your website you need to make your website accessible to disabled users. Level 1 compliance with the WC3 standard will usually suffice.

click here for further details on WC3 compliance

Trade Marks and Logos

Do not use other people’s trade marks or logos without their consent on your website or you could be liable to pay damages for trade mark infringements.

Copyright

Do not use other people’s content without their consent on your website, or you could be liable to pay damages for copyright infringements. If you have links to other people’s content, make sure that this is permitted in their terms of use and ensure that the information opens in a new frame.

Online Payment

If you accept online payment for goods or services you must provide customers with specific information about their right to cancel, VAT and prices, refunds and defective goods PRIOR to the sale being concluded.

Recommended Requirements

In addition to the above mandatory rules it is advisable to have the following, in addition.

Terms of Use/Disclaimer

You should set out the rules applicable to persons using and accessing the goods and services on your website. For example state who may access the website i.e. consumers, businesses, over 18s. You should also aim to limit your liability for information on the web site. For example state which law applies, your limits on liability etc. However, please note that you cannot exclude or limit certain liabilities in particular circumstances  – particularly in relation to consumer, injuries caused by goods and services, or defects in your goods and services.

Copyright Notice

Protect the information on your website by inserting a copyright notice “© company name 2010.  All rights reserved.” Without this notice,  it may be difficult in some countries to take any action against a copyright infringement.

The above are examples of the main legal requirements for websites. This is a very complicated area of law and the specific rules that apply to you will depend on what goods and services you are offering, whether you are acting BTB (business to business) or BTC (business to customer), where you are based, where your customers are located and many other factors.

Help

If you would like to have your website reviewed for compliance with English law or have any queries about compliance please contact:

irene.bodle@bodlelaw.com
www.bodlelaw.com

To register for my newsletter click here

______________________________________________________

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