CS 302 Professional Issues

Chapter 12 - Contracts

§12.0 Introduction §12.2 Essential Contents
§12.1 Overview - UK Practice §12.3 When Things Go Wrong

Previous Reading: Further Legal Issues

§12.0 Introduction

No matter what you subsequently do to earn your living, you are going to be affected by the question of contracts to do this, that or the other

Here, we are particularly concerned with contracts for the exchange or use of goods, specifically for the deployment of computer hardware and software

There is clear guidance on this, essentially from an ethical viewpoint, in professional codes like BCS' code of practice (do well what is relevant) and code of conduct (pay attention to your wider responsibilities), which we discussed in Chapter 6

So ... what should you do?

Having said all that, what are the principal issues?

§12.1 Introduction - UK View

Remember, these notes are prepared by a computer scientist in the context of a computer science lecture; they are not from a lawyer!

Contracts can be written, or oral

What forms a contract? Hm! The key question!

So the relevant legal system matters!

Under many circumstances, you can get away with the use of a standard contract

§12.2 Essential Contents

When a contract is being drawn up, you will need clauses to give suitable definition in each of the following areas. So, with appropriate legal advice you need to consider:

All these are points which require a well considered position, and one which is clearly and unambiguously expressed - and there may be other points appropriate to your particular pieces of work. If you have any doubts about the desirability of clarity, read again the licences you hold for some of the software deployed on your own computer!

§12.3 When Things Go Wrong

When a contract goes wrong, there are essentially two legal ways to gain recompense

In legal Latin these two are respectively "ex contractu" and "ex delictu"

You must understand the interplay between technical computer science issues and associated legal ones ...

... but be very wary about believing (unless you really do have relevant education and knowledge in both areas) that you understand both the law and the computer science!

© Paul Goldfinch 2008 Next Chapter Return to CS 302 Menu