Cloud computing

Legal practices are increasingly using cloud computing as an alternative to 'traditional' software procurement. Cloud computing has several advantages, but it also carries different types of risks which your firm should navigate carefully.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

One of the many impacts of COVID-19 is that those law firms that do not currently use cloud infrastructure are facing increased challenges with their existing legacy on-premise IT infrastructure not being ‘fit for purpose’ for widespread and an indefinite period of remote working. As a result, you could be looking to move to the cloud at an accelerated pace. Although you need to move fast the guidance in this practice note should still be considered.

In addition, a couple of COVID-19 specific issues as they relate to cloud computing should also be considered.

Irrespective of the actual wording of the force majeure clause in the cloud contract, ensure that the force majeure clause expressly excludes COVID-19 and/or any government/legal or regulatory steps taken to combat COVID-19. If the cloud service provider resists this, then you should consider agreeing a specific provision dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 (rather than leaving the force majeure clause ‘as is’).

Consider whether a force majeure clause excuses all performance of a cloud service provider or whether the occurrence of a force majeure event should not excuse the cloud service provider’s obligation to implement disaster recovery/business continuity obligations and to restore services. If a cloud service provider is excused from implementing disaster recovery/business continuity plans in the event of a force majeure event, you should consider revising the clause as that may be when you need disaster recovery/business continuity the most.

This practice note is the Law Society’s view of good practice in this area, and is not legal advice. For more information see the legal status.