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This article is written by Yash Singhal from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi. This article covers the concept of technology contracts and advantages of in-house counsels who have knowledge about them. It also states about the future scope of these counsels while mentioning the benefits of such contracts.

Introduction

The technology contracts have been widely adopted online contracts with multiple benefits. 

Increased contract visibility, tracking validity or for renewal of contract, improving control over private sensitive data of customers, enhancing documentation management, catering to mass audience at once, reducing manual labour for documentation, commitment to completion of obligations are some benefits of technology contracts. In the growing technical times, it is the way forward for all the service-based companies in India. If you prefer starting an online business through e-commerce websites, then this article might interest you.

Can learning Technology Contracts give you an advantage as an In-house Counsel?

Need for learning about Technology Contracts

Technology has reached every sphere of our lives in this period of technological advancement. No human being can resist technological development from touching their lives as it is almost impossible to ignore the need of technology in every basic task of life. The manual labour has been replaced with automation to ease the burden on labour. The automation has substantially lowered the cost and time of production. technology has been considered more dependable than any person.

Technology contracts have been a new norm accepted worldwide by most of the companies. The e-commerce websites function on the preparation of these technology contracts which are impliedly accepted by the customers while purchasing their services. The terms and conditions of the contracts are such that the customer is bound to receive them by clicking the ‘I Agree’ button to continue with the transaction process, or else they are returned to the browsing page again. 

There are other forms of technology contracts as well that are made to get the consent of the clients by a law firm. The contract includes all the terms and conditions as to the obligations of both parties to fulfil the contract or a civil suit may follow for breach of obligations. These contracts also contain e-signatures which is the implied acceptance on the part of the party to a firm’s contract.

Certain details of technology contracts in India includes:

Standard Terms and Conditions

The technology contracts are digitally signed contracts which come with a set of terms and conditions which are standard in nature. The party forming the contract makes an agreement for other customers/clients to accept the agreement by electronically signing it for becoming a contract. These terms and conditions are set according to the whims of the proposer and do not provide a provision for amendment by any other party. 

The eligibility of the party to enter into a technology contract is on the grounds of the terms of the contract which are often in favour of the party forming them. The contract must not include the performance of any illegal act or misusing the private information of the customer by e-commerce websites.

Legality of Technology Contracts

The technology contracts also called electronic contracts or e-contracts, are legally enforceable contracts with legal acceptance under Indian law. The Information Technology Act, 2000 contains provisions which have provided for the legality of the technology contracts. These contracts are kept at equal pedestal as a contract under the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

Section 5 of Information Technology Act, 2000 legally recognizes electronic signatures. If an individual affixes any document, it is considered that the person is satisfied with the document regardless of the signature being an electronic signature. The electronic signature must be according to the directions of the Central Government.

Section 10 of Information Technology Act, 2000 decides the Central Government’s powers to make rules in respect of electronic signatures. 

Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 has provided for the admissibility of digitally signed contracts.

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Kinds of Technology Contracts

There are three kinds of Technology Contracts identified in India:

1. Browse Wrap Agreement

These agreements are considered binding on the condition of the contracting party using the website. This includes user policies provided by e-commerce websites to be read by customers. It is assumed that if a purchase is made, the contracting party is aware of the terms and conditions of the agreement.

2. Shrink Wrap Contract

These contracts have terms and conditions which are enforced upon the contracting party. It is often present in a manual that accompanies the software products that are purchased by customers. The usage of the product by the customer is the acceptance of the contract by them.

3. Click Wrap Agreement

These agreements are take-it-or-leave-it in nature which means that the contracting party lacks any power to negotiate. The party is only available with the option to accept the terms as they are or reject them. These terms of service may not be present on the webpage but would be accessible before acceptance.

All these features of the technology contracts have raised its popularity in India and hence, the need for learning the technology contracts has increased. The violation of the obligations of these contracts gives the aggrieved party powers to file a civil suit in the competent court to get damages from the other party. The counsel with the information about technology contracts would be at an advantage as opposed to other counsel. 

The Added Advantage

The concept of technology contracts in India is quite modern as compared to the normal paper contracts with the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The digitisation of all forms of work has paved the way for the introduction of the legality of such technology contracts. This concept is new, thus, there are very few counsels who have relevant and substantial information about the details of these contracts. The supply of technology contracts counsels being low, and the demand rising with companies involved in technology contracts, the counsels with such knowledge have an upper hand.

The legal professionals with adequate knowledge of technology contracts are required to draft these with legal validity for the companies. The counsels are needed to fight for the enforceability of these contracts in a court of law to bring justice to the aggrieved party. In times of such cut throat competition in the legal profession, an in-house counsel with such knowledge would be profited with its advantageous position.

Every field of law is flooded with lawyers specialised in the subject. The specialisation includes an in-depth knowledge of all facets of that particular subject with experience of multiple court proceedings in that matter. There have not been many landmark online contract cases decided by the Supreme Court due to its existence of not more than 20 years. The expertise in this matter would be majorly theoretical with limited practical experience.

Success Story or Experience of Persons with such Knowledge

The public as well as private enterprises have shown a growing interest in Artificial Intelligence which is nothing but dependence on technology for its survival. A few legal firms have also tried to transform their functioning by investing in technology. Legal infrastructure in artificial intelligence has not been fully discovered around the world so it provides an opportunity for certain startups to take advantage of the situation.

These technology contracts are less time consuming with mass reach to all concerned individuals that are contracting-parties. Every person values time and would prefer any medium that takes less time but still helps in achieving the objective. The e-commerce websites observing high number of visitors at a particular point of time, it is practically impossible to reach out to each one of them separately with the documents to be read and signed by the customer. In such cases, the startups providing legal online contracts service are approached by the companies to draft these contracts.

A list of successful startups in India involved in this practice-

  1. This startup has been revolutionary in terms of easing the work of companies by drafting technology contracts using tools powered by Artificial Intelligence.
  2. They have replaced hectic paperwork and reduced efforts of handling them. 
  3. Through SpotDraft’s effective AI, the customers can draft and sign contracts, send reminders and receive payments through safe transactions.
  4. The AI has the potential to identify ‘good, bad and ugly’ components of a contract for users to know about it.
  1. This is a firm doing impressive work in the field of AI. They have a list of celebrated clientele with e-commerce companies.
  2. Strategic advice on futuristic aspects of law relating to blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence and more.
  3. Involved in documentation of technology contracts such as shrink wrap and click wrap agreements. This also includes end-user licence agreements.
  1. It is well-reputed for technologynology-related litigation. It is a corporate law firm which was established in 2004.
  2. It provides a sector of payment gateways. In the past, has helped mobile wallets to set up technology in India.
  3. It has a well known clientele list including Google and Bharti Airtel.
  1. It is one of the most famous firms in India with expertise in the wide range of legal fields.
  2. It works in the fields of payment gateways, contract management, law firm operations and other fields.
  3. Launched a legal firm incubator- ‘Prarambh’ that will mentor 3-4 legal technology start-ups to help firms in diversifying the legal system. It will promote innovation while enabling startups to adopt technology with a focus on subject matter expertise to the developers with a vision to nurture local talent into future world leaders.

                     

How does Learning about Technology Contracts helps their Future?

The knowledge of technology contracts is important for legal professionals to deal with any crime regarding violation of such contracts. The technology is taking over manual labour faster than one can imagine, thus, a requirement is there to get accustomed to the changes. A contract is a basic documentation accepted among the parties as per the terms and conditions of each of them to form an obligation on them to fulfill the tasks assigned by the contract. technology contracts are a modified version of paperwork contracts for e-commerce companies and other companies dealing with the public. 

These technology contracts use AI systems which complete any number of contract-related tasks, from contract formation to their review and management. This has the potential to improve the way in which in-house legal departments and firms handle contracts. They centralise the contract management tools while automating regular tasks across the contract management lifecycle. The software can provide accurate and standardised contract layouts to guarantee up to date language with perfection. 

The database is maintained online which does not require large piles of files of paperwork with names over each file to store the data. Online database needs minimal hard work on the part of the individual with hassle free management. The management of technology contracts is a labour less task with all taken care of by the AI regarding terms, conditions, deliverables, and deadlines for every contract. The safety of the personal data is maintained by the AI prototype with easy accessibility and visibility of data stored. The owner has full control over the data stored by him and can only be monitored by him/her. These are all controlled by the ones initiating them yet there are possibilities of contractual obligations not fulfilled or terms and conditions not adequately listed or a fault in the provided terms of a contract, which calls for availability of in-house counsel with the knowledge about these contracts.

The future of counsels with this knowledge would be bright with the technnical advancement at a growing stage and all companies adopting approaches that cater to most people at a particular time at minimal cost with lower manual labour. All these demands will be fulfilled with the introduction of technology contracts in every company present out there.

Conclusion

Law is a professional field with numerous subfields and each subfield containing multiple experts. In such a scenario, the technology contract field is relatively new and any counsel with adequate knowledge about this would be at an advantage. The technology contracts are legally enforceable contracts over digital means with restrictions as to the eligibility of entering into them. technology law is yet to be identified as a crucial field of study in law, thus, those who conceptually understand it and are able to put the information in practice would be bound to succeed. 


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