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ISA publishes guide to legal risk in the automation and process industries

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has published a new reference book intended to help automation, robotics and process industry professionals better understand relevant legal concepts and manage risk.

The Automation Legal Reference: A Guide to Legal Risk in the Automation, Robotics and Process industries by Mark Voigtmann, an attorney with expertise in legal matters and proceedings involving automation companies, manufacturers and end users, explains in simple language—not legalese—the essentials of legal risk management, ranging from contract development and negotiation to professional licensing and dispute resolution.

“This is not a law book,” says Voigtmann, a partner in Faegre Baker Daniels, an international law firm with offices in the US, China and Great Britain.

“Instead, it’s a concise guide to the law for persons in these industries, written in plain English. It’s also the first wide-ranging exploration of legal risk that has been published by ISA.”

Chapter topics include:

  • Automation Projects and Legal Risk
  • Project Delivery Methods
  • Proposals and Purchase Orders
  • Scope of Work
  • Contract Clauses
  • Negotiating Automation Contracts
  • Specifications
  • Intellectual Property
  • Automation Standards
  • Professional Licensing
  • “Green” Considerations
  • Changes and Other Mid-Project Communications
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Negligence
  • Insurance
  • Liens, Bonds and Other Remedies
  • Maintenance and Service Agreements
  • Legalities for Tough Economic Times
  • Auditing Legal Health
  • Working with Attorneys

Voigtmann hopes that the book will improve awareness within the automation and control community of important legal concepts.

“All too often,” he recalls, “I have seen too many engineers and automation company executives attempt to navigate their way through legal hazards in what can only be described as a “penny-wise but pound-foolish” manner—saving a few thousand dollars on legal fees on the front end only to see a company-killing problem arise as a result.”

At the same time, Voigtmann says the book can alert lawyers to the specific ways the automation community creates risk.

“The lack of communication and understanding is a two-way problem. Most lawyers have little or no understanding of what automation companies do and how they function.

For lawyers with clients in the automation industry, I am hopeful this book can serve as a sort of checklist and provide a window into the field of automation.

“At a minimum,” Voigtmann concludes, “the book should make automation company executives and engineers smarter when communicating with their lawyers—and it will make lawyers smarter when communicating with their clients in these industries.”

The book is listed at US$79 on the ISA wesbite.

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