The Technology, Engineering and Construction List (TEC List) was introduced into the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday, replacing the Building and Construction List and providing a new platform for the resolution of highly technical disputes.
The judge-managed list in the Supreme Court will be run under the supervision of Justice Vickery, who has stipulated a series of protocol to ensure that parties focus solely on the central issues in the case.
The heads of Mallesons Stephen Jaques' IT dispute resolution team, partners Robert Cooper and Mark Weber, welcomed the introduction of the TEC list and its inclusive approach towards technology issues.
Under the TEC List rules, "technology" expressly includes telecommunications equipment and networks, computers and computer software, electrical circuits, machines and processing facilities.
"I think it's great to see the court taking a proactive view and actually shaping their own procedures to more efficiently bring disputes which can not be resolved to the court," Cooper told Lawyers Weekly.
Cooper praised Justice Vickery's approach to dispute resolution, including the requirement that parties enter into serious settlement discussions prior to their directions hearing, and the "chess-clock" approach to case management.
"So what this is about is concentrating the parties to say 'You speak to the judge about what's central and forget about the rest of it' and I think it will be adopted," he said.
However, Weber said the culture of handling IT disputes was constantly evolving, and that the industry could ultimately follow the more litigious path of its building and construction counterparts.
"I think what's fascinating is to see how it's going to go from here and whether it becomes more like construction, or whether we simply start to see more and more sophisticated uses of the informal and innovative approaches to dispute resolution that have been characteristics of the IT industry to date," he commented.
"I suspect it will continue to be more informal [dispute resolution], but I'm just seeing a greater preparedness to bring the fight on, get in the box seat and bring issues to a head to resolve them, and we're doing a lot of that work right now."
- Laura MacIntyre