Software defects and the Law

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Dr Stephen Castell: ‘Software defects and the Law: dealing with the despair, distrust and disputes of a DISPRO, the DISaster PROject’

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Dr Stephen Castell


18:00-18:30: log in, wait for webinar to begin

18:30-20:00 approximately: presentation

20:00-20:15 approximately: final questions and conclusion


Dr Castell teaches his Course, Avoiding IT Disasters – the Expert Way, drawing on his 30+ years of experience as an expert witness in software contract disputes. The Course Objectives are essentially to give participants the benefit of Expert experience in identifying and avoiding IT DISaster PROjects (DISPROs), and assist in achieving

• avoidance of failure of key IT systems procurement, development, implementation

and delivery;

and thus

• better legal contracting for,

• professional quality assurance of

• improved corporate investment in,

IT projects and contracts.

In this interactive session Stephen will take participants briefly through some key points from his Avoiding IT Disasters – the Expert Way Course*, in particular illuminating on the important software material defect protocol, or test, accepted by the courts.

He will then open the floor to an interactive Q&A Session, planning to focus on looking at the legal issues with regard to systems quality from a software practitioner's point of view – but it’s up to you. You may for example have queries concerning:

• What are your duties and responsibilities in law to customers, the general public, and other stakeholders?

• What steps can you take to ensure that you meet those responsibilities?

• What help is available?

• What can you expect to happen when mistakes are made and the inevitable software defects cause a system failure, with crashes, inadequacies, deficiencies or other serious operational faults and business consequences?

• What can be done to mitigate your risks, and potential liabilities?

* For relevant background see:

CUTTER EXECUTIVE REPORT Forensic Systems Analysis: A Methodology for Assessment and Avoidance of IT Disasters and Disputes

By Stephen Castell, February 1, 2006, in Business Technology & Digital Transformation Strategies



Dr Stephen Castell CITP (Medallist, IT Consultant of the Year, BCS Professional Awards), as a leading forensic expert witness in computer software and systems disputes, for over thirty years, has acted in the largest and longest software development cases to have reached the English High Court and the Sydney Supreme Court.

He is the author of the foundational APPEAL Report (1990), carried out for HM Treasury, on admissibility, reliability and security of computer systems and the evidence derived therefrom.

He has written extensively on the issues of ICT professionalism, and standards of presentation and reliability of computer evidence, recently, for example, in the wake of the December 2019 Bates v Post Office Judgment concerning the PO Horizon System, for which he has called for a Judge-led Enquiry constituted to include Independent Professional Forensic ICT Expertise.

He conceived the Government by Algorithm Debate in April 2021, a first of its kind, organised by the BCS Law Specialist Group and the Society for Computers and Law, in which he Proposed the Motion This House would prefer to be Governed by Algorithm direct, than by Politicians who are not ICT Professionals and who have never coded software to deliver a functionally useful Algorithm for any customer or user.

Long before the Satoshi Nakamoto paper ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ of 31 October 2008, he proposed a “new, powerful, common electronic trading currency … ‘owned’ by no single physical nation state, central bank institution, economic or political grouping,… the Electronic Cash Unit” (‘What the ECU stands for’, Stephen Castell, Computing, 20 July 1995), and has written extensively on blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

He is increasingly involved as an expert witness in cryptocurrency and digital assets disputes, christened by him Crypto Dragons.


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Organiser BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

Organiser of Software defects and the Law

We are all responsible for ensuring technology-led change is safe and positive for everyone in society. At BCS we’re committed to meeting this responsibility under royal charter.

That’s why we set the highest standards of professionalism and best practice in the industry, share knowledge, and develop skills and capability tuned to our evolving digital world.

We’ve been supporting the technology industry since 1957 and our 73,000-strong membership spans 150 countries. Every member actively promotes IT professionalism and we provide them with career development opportunities and bring the community together to address the professional, ethical and economic challenges facing technology today.

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