Primary Blocks

Dispute resolution

This guide explains the different parts that make up the dispute resolution block.


Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution clauses are essential in tech contracts, as they outline the methods by which parties will address any disagreements that may arise during the course of their business relationship. By establishing clear processes for resolving disputes, these clauses can help parties avoid lengthy and costly litigation while also maintaining a more amicable working relationship.

Negotiation and escalation

In many tech contracts, the dispute resolution process begins with an informal negotiation phase. For example, the parties may agree to engage in a series of discussions or meetings aimed at resolving the issue at hand. This might involve escalating the matter to higher levels of management within each organization, or it could entail the appointment of a neutral third party to help facilitate discussions. A practical example of this would be a disagreement over a software development milestone, where the parties attempt to negotiate a revised timeline or scope of work.


If the initial negotiation phase fails to resolve the dispute, the parties may opt for mediation. In this scenario, a neutral mediator assists the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator, often an expert in the relevant industry, helps the parties identify their interests, explore potential solutions, and negotiate a resolution. A practical example in the context of a tech contract might involve a disagreement over intellectual property rights, where the mediator assists in clarifying the parties’ respective ownership interests and negotiating a fair licensing agreement.

Binding Arbitration

If mediation is unsuccessful, the dispute resolution clause may stipulate that the parties proceed to binding arbitration. In this process, a neutral arbitrator or panel of arbitrators hears the arguments from both sides and makes a final decision on the matter. Arbitration is generally faster and less expensive than traditional litigation, and the parties often have more control over the process. For instance, they may agree on the qualifications of the arbitrator(s) and the rules governing the arbitration proceedings.

Court process

In some cases, parties may prefer traditional court litigation as a dispute resolution method. This may be appropriate for disputes involving complex legal issues or where the parties believe that a judicial decision is necessary to establish important legal precedent. For example, a tech contract dispute involving novel questions of law related to data privacy or cybersecurity could potentially be better suited for resolution through court litigation.

In conclusion, a dispute resolution block in tech contracts plays a critical role in managing conflicts that may arise during the course of a business relationship. By considering various methods such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation, parties can tailor their contracts to best suit their needs and ensure a more efficient and cost-effective resolution of disputes.

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Good faith negotiations

Good faith negotiations are a valuable tool in dispute resolution, as they encourage open communication and collaboration between parties to resolve issues without resorting to more formal processes. In the context of tech contracts, good faith negotiations can help maintain a positive working relationship, even in the face of disagreements.

A practical example of good faith negotiations in a tech contract might involve a dispute over the delivery of software. Suppose one party claims that the software provided does not meet the agreed-upon specifications or has functionality issues. Instead of immediately escalating the dispute to mediation or arbitration, the parties engage in good faith negotiations to address the concerns. These discussions may involve a thorough review of the software’s features and performance, as well as potential modifications or enhancements to address the issues raised. By engaging in constructive dialogue, the parties may be able to agree on a mutually satisfactory solution, such as a timeline for fixing bugs or delivering additional features.

Another practical example might involve disagreements over service level agreements (SLAs) in a tech contract. If one party feels that the other party is not meeting the agreed-upon SLAs, they could initiate good faith negotiations to discuss the issue. This could involve sharing data on system uptime, response times, and other relevant metrics, as well as discussing any extenuating circumstances that may have contributed to the perceived failure to meet the SLAs. The parties may then agree on a plan to improve performance, adjust the SLAs, or revise the terms of the contract to better reflect their expectations.

In some cases, good faith negotiations can also help parties navigate unforeseen circumstances that may arise during the performance of a tech contract. For instance, a sudden change in market conditions, regulatory requirements, or technological advancements may render certain aspects of a contract impractical or obsolete. Through good faith negotiations, the parties can work together to identify potential solutions, such as modifying the contract terms, reallocating resources, or adjusting project timelines.

It is essential to note that while there is no obligation for parties to reach an agreement during good faith negotiations, the process requires them to engage honestly and genuinely in an effort to resolve the dispute. This means that parties should approach the negotiations with an open mind, actively listen to each other’s concerns, and be willing to consider alternative solutions. By doing so, they can often resolve disputes more efficiently and amicably, preserving their business relationship and avoiding the need for more formal dispute resolution processes.


In larger tech contracts, a structured escalation process can help address disputes more efficiently and effectively by involving the appropriate decision-makers at various stages of the dispute resolution process. This multi-level approach encourages early resolution of issues and minimizes the likelihood of disputes escalating to more formal and costly methods. Here are some practical examples of how these levels of escalation might work in the context of tech contracts:

Level 1: Escalation to the Steering Committee

The Steering Committee typically consists of representatives from both parties who oversee the project’s progress and address any issues that may arise. In the case of a dispute, the Steering Committee can be the first line of resolution. For instance, if there is a disagreement over project milestones or deliverables, the Steering Committee can work together to review the project status, assess the reasons behind the disagreement, and determine a mutually acceptable solution, such as adjusting deadlines or reallocating resources.

Level 2: Escalation to the Dispute Board

If the Steering Committee cannot resolve the dispute, the matter may be escalated to a Dispute Board. This board is often composed of subject matter experts or experienced professionals in the relevant industry who can provide impartial guidance and recommendations. A practical example might involve a dispute over the quality of the software code or the performance of a specific feature. The Dispute Board can evaluate the issue, taking into consideration industry standards and best practices, and provide recommendations on how to address the problem. The parties may then decide to follow the recommendations, modify them, or escalate the matter further.

Level 3: Escalation to Senior Executives

If the dispute remains unresolved after the involvement of the Dispute Board, the matter may be escalated to senior executives from both parties. These individuals typically have the authority to make high-level decisions that may be necessary to resolve the dispute. For example, if the disagreement involves a strategic partnership or the allocation of substantial resources, senior executives can negotiate a resolution that balances the interests of both parties, taking into consideration the broader business objectives and the long-term impact of the dispute.

By incorporating a structured escalation process in tech contracts, parties can ensure that disputes are addressed promptly and efficiently, involving the appropriate stakeholders at each stage. This approach not only helps maintain a positive working relationship between the parties but also minimizes the likelihood of disputes escalating to more formal and costly resolution methods, such as mediation, arbitration, or litigation.


Mediation is a valuable tool in tech contract dispute resolution, as it encourages parties to work together to find a mutually agreeable solution with the assistance of a neutral mediator. As a non-binding process, parties can maintain control over the outcome and negotiate terms that best suit their needs. Here are some practical examples and considerations relating to mediation clauses in tech contracts:

  1. Legal representation: Parties may choose to include a provision in the mediation clause that addresses whether or not they can have legal representation during the mediation process. For example, in a dispute over a software development project, one party may feel more comfortable having their attorney present during mediation to help them navigate complex legal issues and ensure their interests are protected. Including a provision that allows for legal representation can help ensure that both parties feel supported and well-prepared during the mediation process.

  2. Fees and costs: Mediation can be a cost-effective dispute resolution method compared to litigation or arbitration. However, it is important for the parties to consider how fees and costs associated with the mediation will be allocated. The mediation part in a tech contract can address this by specifying that each party is responsible for their own costs, or that the parties will split the mediator’s fees equally.

  3. Place of mediation: Tech contracts often involve parties from different geographic locations or even different countries, which can create logistical challenges for mediation. The mediation part may specify the location where the mediation will take place. For example, if a software development company in the United States has a dispute with a client in Europe, the mediation part might stipulate that mediation will occur in a neutral location, such as London, or via video conferencing to accommodate the parties’ respective locations.

  4. Mediation association and rules: As mentioned, different mediation associations have their own rules and procedures governing the mediation process. When building a tech contract, parties may choose to specify a particular mediation association and its associated rules to ensure a consistent and predictable mediation process.

In summary, mediation can be an effective and flexible dispute resolution tool in tech contracts. By carefully considering provisions related to legal representation, fees and costs, the place of mediation, and the applicable mediation association and rules, parties can tailor the mediation process to best suit their needs and promote a more efficient and amicable resolution of disputes.

Expert determination

Expert determination is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can be particularly helpful in resolving technical disputes in tech contracts, as it involves an independent expert with specialized knowledge in the relevant field. By leveraging the expert’s expertise, parties can achieve a more informed and accurate resolution to their dispute. Here are some practical examples and considerations relating to expert determination clauses in tech contracts:

  1. How the expert will be appointed: The expert determination clause should outline the process for selecting and appointing the expert. This might involve each party nominating their preferred expert and then jointly agreeing on one, or engaging a professional organization to recommend an expert. For example, in a dispute over a data center’s energy efficiency, the parties might agree to appoint an expert with experience in data center design and energy management.

  2. Role and powers of the expert: The expert determination clause should specify the expert’s role and powers in the dispute resolution process. This may include reviewing relevant documents and information, conducting investigations or tests, and providing a written report with their findings and recommendations. For instance, in a dispute over the performance of a cloud-based service, the expert might be granted access to the system logs and performance data to make an informed determination.

  3. Fees and disbursements relating to the expert determination: The expert determination clause should address the allocation of fees and costs associated with the process. Parties might agree to split the expert’s fees equally, or they may decide that the losing party will bear the costs. Alternatively, the expert could be empowered to allocate costs as part of their determination.

  4. Representation and attendance at the determination: The expert determination clause should establish whether the parties can have legal representation during the process and whether they can attend meetings or hearings conducted by the expert. This can help ensure that the parties have the opportunity to present their case and address any concerns or questions raised by the expert.

  5. Obligations of parties: The expert determination clause should outline the obligations of the parties during the process, such as providing information, documentation, and access to relevant systems or facilities. This can help ensure that the expert has the necessary information and resources to make an informed determination.

  6. The status of the expert determination: The expert determination clause should specify whether the expert’s decision will be binding or non-binding on the parties. If the determination is binding, the parties will be obligated to comply with the expert’s decision. If it is non-binding, the parties may choose to accept the expert’s decision or pursue other dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration or litigation.

In conclusion, expert determination can be an efficient and effective method of resolving technical disputes in tech contracts. By carefully considering the various aspects of the expert determination process, parties can craft a dispute resolution clause that best suits their needs and ensures a fair and accurate resolution to their disputes.


Arbitration is a popular alternative dispute resolution method for tech contracts, as it offers a more efficient and flexible process than litigation, with decisions often being final and binding. Here are some practical examples and considerations relating to arbitration parts in tech contracts:

  1. Number of arbitrators: The arbitration part should specify the number of arbitrators who will preside over the dispute. Typically, parties choose either a sole arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators. For example, in a complex software licensing dispute, the parties may opt for a panel of three arbitrators with diverse expertise in law, technology, and industry-specific issues.

  2. Qualification of the arbitrators: The arbitration part should outline the desired qualifications and expertise of the arbitrators. This might include relevant legal, technical, or industry experience. For instance, in a dispute involving intellectual property rights in a tech contract, the parties may require that the arbitrator have a background in both technology and IP law.

  3. How the arbitrators will be appointed: The arbitration part should detail the process for selecting and appointing the arbitrators. This could involve each party appointing one arbitrator, with those two arbitrators then appointing a third, or engaging a professional arbitration organization to nominate arbitrators based on the parties’ criteria.

  4. Where the arbitration will take place: The arbitration part should specify the location of the arbitration proceedings. In international tech contracts, parties may choose a neutral location or agree to use virtual conferencing tools to accommodate different time zones and travel restrictions.

  5. Legal representation: The arbitration part should address whether parties can have legal representation during the arbitration proceedings. Allowing for legal representation can help ensure that the parties are well-prepared and have their interests protected throughout the process.

  6. How fees and disbursements of the arbitration will be dealt with: The arbitration part should outline how the costs associated with the arbitration process will be allocated. Parties may agree to split the costs equally, or the arbitration panel may be empowered to allocate costs as part of their decision.

  7. What is the status of the finding of the arbitrators: The arbitration part should specify whether the arbitrators’ decision will be binding or non-binding on the parties. In most cases, arbitration decisions are binding and enforceable in court, providing a final resolution to the dispute.

  8. Whether or not there is a right of appeal: The arbitration part should indicate whether parties have the right to appeal the arbitrators’ decision. In some cases, parties may agree to a limited right of appeal based on specific grounds, such as an error of law or a manifest disregard for the facts. However, the right to appeal is often restricted in arbitration to promote efficiency and finality.

In conclusion, arbitration can be an effective method for resolving disputes in tech contracts, as it offers a more streamlined and specialized process than litigation. By carefully considering the various aspects of the arbitration process and including them in the arbitration part, parties can tailor the dispute resolution process to best suit their needs and ensure a fair and efficient resolution to any disputes that may arise.

Governing law

The distinction between the location of dispute resolution and the governing law is crucial in tech contracts, particularly when the parties are located in different legal jurisdictions. The governing law part determines which jurisdiction’s laws will be used to interpret and enforce the contract, while the location of dispute resolution specifies where any legal proceedings will take place. Here are some practical examples and considerations relating to the governing law part in tech contracts:

  1. Choice of governing law: In an international tech contract, the parties may have differing preferences for the governing law. For example, a US-based software development company and a European client might prefer their respective domestic laws to govern the contract. The parties should negotiate and agree on a mutually acceptable governing law, considering factors such as familiarity with the legal system, predictability, and the potential impact on their respective rights and obligations.

  2. Neutrality of governing law: In some cases, parties may opt for a neutral governing law that is not the domestic law of either party. This can help balance the parties’ interests and avoid any perceived bias towards one party’s legal system. For instance, parties might choose English law or Swiss law as the governing law in their tech contract, as these jurisdictions are known for their well-established legal systems and are commonly used in international agreements.

  3. Choice of dispute resolution location: Similar to the choice of governing law, parties should negotiate and agree on a location for dispute resolution. This may involve selecting a neutral location, especially when the parties are based in different countries or legal jurisdictions. For example, a tech company in Asia and a client in the United States might choose to have dispute resolution proceedings take place in London or Singapore, both of which are recognized as leading international arbitration centers.

  4. Enforceability of judgments and awards: When choosing the governing law and location of dispute resolution, parties should consider the enforceability of judgments or arbitration awards in the respective jurisdictions.

Interim relief

In certain situations, a party to a tech contract may need to seek immediate relief, such as an injunction or other interim measures, to protect their rights or prevent further harm due to a breach of the agreement by the other party. To address this, the dispute resolution clause in the tech contract can include provisions regarding interim relief, which allow parties to seek such relief without violating the agreed-upon dispute resolution process. Here are some practical examples and considerations relating to interim relief provisions in tech contracts:

  1. Preservation of intellectual property rights: In a tech contract involving the licensing or development of software, a party may need to seek an injunction to prevent the unauthorized use or disclosure of their intellectual property by the other party. The interim relief provision can clarify that a party is allowed to seek such relief without violating the dispute resolution clause, ensuring that their intellectual property rights are protected while the dispute resolution process is ongoing.

  2. Preventing irreparable harm: The interim relief provision can help address situations where a breach of the tech contract could result in irreparable harm, such as the loss of sensitive data or damage to a party’s reputation. By allowing parties to seek interim relief, the dispute resolution clause helps to mitigate potential losses and maintain the parties’ rights and interests during the resolution process.

  3. Compatibility with dispute resolution methods: The interim relief provision should be compatible with the chosen dispute resolution method in the tech contract. For example, if the parties have agreed to arbitration, the provision might specify that they can seek interim relief from the arbitral tribunal or a competent court, in accordance with the applicable arbitration rules and laws.

  4. Balancing the need for relief with dispute resolution: While allowing parties to seek interim relief is crucial in some cases, it is essential to strike a balance between providing necessary protection and adhering to the agreed-upon dispute resolution process. The interim relief provision should be drafted in a way that preserves the integrity of the dispute resolution process and encourages the parties to continue pursuing a resolution through the chosen method.

  5. Notice and opportunity to respond: The interim relief provision should include a requirement for the party seeking relief to provide notice to the other party and, where possible, give them an opportunity to respond before any interim measures are granted. This helps to ensure fairness and transparency in the dispute resolution process and allows both parties to present their positions on the matter.



Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation and arbitration, offer several advantages over litigation, including the ability to maintain confidentiality throughout the dispute resolution process. Incorporating confidentiality provisions within the dispute resolution clause of a tech contract can help protect sensitive information and limit potential reputational harm for the parties involved. Here are some practical examples and considerations relating to confidentiality provisions in tech contracts:

  1. Confidentiality of the proceedings: ADR methods like arbitration and mediation often involve private hearings, unlike court litigation, which is typically conducted in public. The dispute resolution clause can specify that all discussions, documents, and information exchanged during the ADR process remain confidential, preventing unauthorized disclosure or use of sensitive information.

  2. Confidentiality agreements for participants: The confidentiality provision may require all participants in the dispute resolution process, including the mediator, arbitrator, and any witnesses or experts, to sign confidentiality agreements. This helps to ensure that everyone involved in the proceedings is aware of the confidentiality requirements and obligated to adhere to them.

  3. Exceptions to confidentiality: The confidentiality provision should outline any exceptions or limitations to the confidentiality requirements. For example, parties may be allowed to disclose information in the ADR process if required by law or to enforce an arbitration award or mediated settlement agreement. Clearly defining the scope of confidentiality and any exceptions can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes.

  4. Protection of trade secrets and proprietary information: In tech contracts, disputes may involve sensitive information such as trade secrets, proprietary technology, or confidential business strategies. Including a confidentiality provision in the dispute resolution clause can help safeguard this information from being disclosed during the dispute resolution process, protecting the parties’ competitive advantages and intellectual property.

  5. Minimizing reputational damage: Confidentiality provisions can help parties avoid potential reputational harm that could arise from public disclosure of disputes, particularly if they involve allegations of misconduct or breaches of contract. By keeping the proceedings confidential, parties can focus on resolving the dispute without the added pressure of public scrutiny or potential damage to their business relationships.

Important considerations

World Commerce and Contracting Principles

World Commerce and Contracting provides the following principles relating to warranties-

  1. Although parties may have diverse views on the effectiveness or propriety of ADR strategies, all contracts should require Direct Negotiation as a means of resolving disputes prior to utilizing either ADR processes or litigation.
  2. As compared to most forms of ADR, litigation takes more time due to courts’ large caseloads and required pre-trial procedures, can be more costly, and can result in numerous appeals before a final actionable judgment is rendered. ADR is generally conducted in a private forum, which allows the dispute to remain confidential between the parties. Mediation and Arbitration are forms of ADR that allow the parties to choose specialized mediators or arbitrators who are familiar with the parties’ industry(ies), and the technical and commercial complexities of the contract.
  3. ADR processes should be specified in the relevant agreement so that there is no ambiguity as to intent. Arbitration must be specified in the agreement to be enforceable. If ADR is not contracted for in writing, then litigation becomes the default dispute resolution mechanism for the contract in most legal systems. Under applicable legal doctrine, arbitration clauses are considered independent agreements, separate from the contract in which they appear. ADR clauses should be clear and specific. For Mediation and Arbitration, the chosen ADR Institution’s provided sample clauses should be customized and incorporated into the agreement when appropriate.
  4. Regardless of what ADR process is used or whether one is used at all, parties should always have the right to seek equitable relief (e.g., temporary restraining orders or injunctions), as permitted under local laws, to avoid irreparable harm while the dispute is being resolved.
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