Navigating Vendor Accountability

Dec 15 2023

Ensure Your Developer Takes Responsibility or Risk Accountability Yourself.

In the complex landscape of compliance management, understanding vendor contracts is paramount. This article highlights why managing these contracts is essential. Ensuring a proper contract is established between your business and your vendor or web developer helps strengthen your business, protecting you from possible litigation by demanding accountability from those who make promises.

Commercial Confusion and Compliance

One of the primary challenges in compliance management is the confusion surrounding what compliance entails. Website developers and vendors can contribute to what we call 'commercial confusion’ around compliance in several ways, especially when it comes to issues like accessibility, privacy, or regulatory compliance. To mitigate commercial confusion, website developers and vendors must stay informed about and consistently uphold relevant compliance standards and make accurate and transparent claims.

The Two Facets of Compliance

Compliance is a dual-faceted concept, encompassing both technical and content compliance. Technical compliance refers to the adherence of a website to specific technical standards and guidelines set by accessibility standards, such as WCAG. It involves aspects related to the coding, structure, and functionality of the website. Content compliance is about the accessibility of the actual content on the website, ensuring that the information itself is presented in a way that is inclusive and understandable and can be easily navigated by all users.

While technical compliance pertains to the platform's adherence to standards, content compliance, though a smaller portion of the technical standard, holds significant weight. AAAtraq's inclusion of vendor contracts in the service is rooted in the necessity to hold vendors accountable for their claims and promises.

Vendor Accountability and Contractual Transparency

Vendors often market compliance promises, but the crucial question arises: Do their terms and conditions (T&Cs) align with these promises? AAAtraq encourages businesses to scrutinize their vendor contracts, ensuring that they have specific agreements aligning with claimed compliance. AAAtraq emphasizes the need for independent indemnity, urging businesses to think twice before engaging with vendors who are unwilling to provide it. Vendors who make misleading claims about the level of compliance in their products or services are potentially leaving you exposed to legal consequences.

The Legal Aspect

AAAtraq emphasizes the legal necessity of 'demonstrating reasonable adjustment.' If a vendor is unwilling to agree to standards, capabilities, and compliance, they must offer indemnity against potential failures. A recent legal case saw a 2-million-dollar web accessibility settlement against the vendor that built an inaccessible website. This lawsuit is very important as it puts power into clauses to ensure web vendors deliver accessible websites or face lawsuits.

Lawyer Lainey Felgold, writes that when a web developer has contractually promised to deliver an accessible website but doesn’t live up to that promise, it’s simply unacceptable.

“The developer is making a “false claim” about accessibility that isn’t just unfair, doesn’t just exclude people with disabilities, it’s illegal.” view on Linkedin (opens in a new window)

.... and it is you who are likely exposed

The issue lies in the fact that if vendors neglect compliance, they may very well encounter legal consequences such as fines or penalties. As an uninformed client, you are likely exposed to potential legal repercussions linked with non-compliance. Additionally, your company’s reputation could be adversely affected if connected with a vendor or developer dealing with compliance issues.

Taking Control of Your Vendor Relationships

Summarizing the steps needed to successfully manage vendor contracts and avoid being left accountable is straightforward.

  1. Vendor Accepts Contractual Accountability: Ensure your vendor is willing to be held accountable for their compliance promises. AAAtraq emphasizes the importance of vendors willingly accepting contractual accountability for their compliance promises. This involves a clear commitment from the vendor to adhere to agreed-upon standards and take responsibility for any deviations.

  2. Request Indemnity Against Litigation: Protect your business by asking vendors for independent indemnity. Protecting your business is paramount and AAAtraq encourages you to request independent indemnity from vendors. In practical terms, this means vendors assume financial responsibility for any legal actions or liability arising from non-compliance.

  3. Inaction Risks Liability: Doing nothing means accepting your position without indemnity, exposing yourself to potential liabilities. AAAtraq underscores the peril of inaction in the face of potential liabilities. By doing nothing, you implicitly accept the associated risks without any indemnity protection.

  4. Choose a Vendor with a Proper Contract: Opt for vendors who offer transparent and comprehensive contracts aligning with compliance standards. AAAtraq assists you in evaluating the adequacy of vendor contracts and exposing those that leave you vulnerable.

AAAtraq - be confident in managing vendors

By leveraging AAAtraq’s services, businesses not only enhance their risk management capabilities but also communicate a strong commitment to compliance. This proactive approach signals to vendors that adherence to standards is a top priority. AAAtraq becomes a strategic ally in fostering successful and trustworthy vendor relationships, empowering you to navigate the intricacies of vendor contracts, ensuring compliance, and ultimately safeguarding your business reputation and effectively mitigating risk.

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