DLA Piper has conducted a study on behalf of the European Commission investigating the legal framework for cloud contracts. The study provides guidance to the European Commission on existing laws, case law and administrative guidance applicable to cloud computing contracts in 27 EU Member States and the U.S. level.

The study investigates whether key contractual legal issues, which are typically mentioned in relation to the cloud, are adequately dealt with by existing national law or case law, or, as the case may be, by guidelines issued by the administrative authorities.

The report looked at a number of issues including specific cloud legislation, case law and guidelines; general quality levels of cloud service; the cloud and intellectual property rights; the processing of personal data in the cloud; and security requirements for data stored in the cloud.

One of the main findings of the report was that no specific laws exist in the countries investigated, nor have any 'cloud cases' been reported, resulting in general laws being applied to a cloud environment, which sometimes leads to fragmented solutions internationally on various topics, with one key example relating to the debate on the return of data stored in the cloud after a contract had been terminated.

Consequently, the study demonstrates that the European cloud market, from a legal standpoint, is still a fragmented one which leads to complexity and which may impact trust in cloud adoption for companies.

The report also concludes that many sector-specific regulatory initiatives in the financial or public sector, for example, further fuel the drive towards cloud regulation, as well as confusion on an EU level on how to deal with protected information that is stored in the cloud.

Conducted by DLA Piper, the study was also coordinated by a multinational team, with a number of representatives from countries across Europe.

Patrick van Eecke and Mark O'Conor, both IPT partners at DLA Piper, led the study, with assistance also from Antoon Dierick, Peter Elliott, Kristof De Vulder and Sabine Fehringer.

Patrick said: "This comprehensive study provides a general overview of relevant legislation, case law and administrative guidelines in relation to cloud computing contracts in the European Union and the United States. The study shows that the European cloud market, from a legal standpoint, is still a fragmented one which leads to complexity and which may impact trust in cloud adoption for companies. The study results will provide guidance to EU  lawmakers when deciding on cloud related policy initiatives."

To view the report, click here.