On January 6, 2023, the Paris Court of Appeal rejected the claims of a client who accused an IT service provider of contractual breaches relating to needs that it had not expressed in the signed estimates and accepted acceptance reports.
In this case, a company had entrusted a mobile application development project to an IT service provider, according to the "Agile" method, which implies that the client collaborates with the service provider by freezing its needs in a specification. In this case, the collaboration had not been fruitful because of changing and recurring requests for modifications and adjustments that the client had not initially formulated in the accepted estimates.
Considering that the service provider had not honored either the delivery schedule or the expected services, the client had then engaged its responsibility and claimed damages.
The Court of Appeal rejected the client's claims
It ruled that the service provider had sought to respond quickly to the client's evolving expectations and had therefore not failed in its contractual obligations as defined in the accepted estimates. As the client had signed acceptance reports attesting to a compliant delivery, the exchanges and requests for subsequent modifications were considered by the Court of Appeal as "additional requests" and not as contractual obligations stemming from the signed quotes. The service provider cannot be held liable for obligations that were not included in these contractual documents.
Two things to remember:
This decision underlines the importance for the IT service provider to define in advance and with precision the scope of its intervention and its obligations in order to limit its contractual liability.
This ruling is also an opportunity to remind the client to be vigilant when signing the acceptance reports attesting to the compliant delivery, as his signature "freezes" the scope of the services. Indeed, the service provider cannot be held in breach of contract for the non-performance of additional and subsequent requests that were not included in the acceptance reports.
Link to the judgment (in French): Court of Appeal of Paris, Pole 5 - Ch. 11, judgment of January 6, 2023