At first blush, the long awaited judgment of BSkyB Ltd and Another v HP Enterprise Services UK Ltd and Another presents a veritable smorgasbord of contractual failure to hungry IT lawyers and commercial litigators alike. On closer analysis, however, it is important and interesting not because it creates any new law (it doesn’t) but because it is one of the first major IT disputes to proceed to trial and judgment, it encapsulates many of the features and problems typical of this kind of project and, by the application of established legal principles, serves as an object lesson in how a £48m IT project with risk ostensibly capped at £30m can mushroom into a several hundred million pound disaster.

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