Bird & Bird Advises on a New Microsoft Discount Arrangement for Schools

08 December 2003

International law firm, Bird & Bird has recently advised on a new discounting arrangement available to all UK schools which purchase Microsoft products. Under an agreement between Microsoft and Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), additional discounts will now be available to schools on top of the discounts that Microsoft currently offers to all academic customers.

Roger Bickerstaff at Bird & Bird led the team advising Becta on behalf of the Secretary of State. The negotiations led to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Becta and Microsoft outlining the discounting arrangements including reductions in licensing costs. Richard Eccles from Bird & Bird also advised on significant competition law issues.

The reductions in licensing costs will take effect from 1 January 2004. It is expected that as a result of this agreement, total savings to schools in England will reach at least £46 million over three years, while expenditure could be reduced by anything between 20% and 37% depending on the mix of Microsoft products purchased. Schools’ current purchasing procedures and freedom to choose alternative solutions are not affected by this agreement.

Owen Lynch, Chief Executive of Becta said:

"I am pleased that we have achieved this new agreement with Microsoft. It represents a significant step forward in our relationship with our partners in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry. Our aim is to develop a coherent, sustainable and dependable ICT infrastructure for education, and we will be working extremely proactively with the ICT industry over the next few years in order to achieve this.

We have been pleased by the assistance provided by Bird & Bird in these negotiations. They were able to deal attentively with the day to day commercial negotiations and to provide an in-depth focus on the challenging competition law issues. Their assistance helped us to meet the demanding project deadlines.”

Commenting on behalf of Bird & Bird, Roger Bickerstaff added:

"Today's announcement is good news for schools. We are pleased to have been able to advise on this very progressive agreement which deals directly with providing additional resources in education."

For more information please contact Roger Bickerstaff on 020 7415 6160 or Larry Cattle on 020 7415 6156.