A service-level agreement is a type of service contract wherein the services provided are subject to different levels and rates.  That is, the service provider may charge different rates depending on the quality or specificity of the services.  Often called SLA’s, these types of agreements are commonly used in the telecommunications industry, especially for internet and phone services.

What do Service Level Agreements cover?

Service level agreements usually cover customer service, as well as various technological repairs.  For instance, a purchaser of a specific website service may be charged by the seller based on access to customer service representatives.  Or, the purchaser may be charged based on “mean time between failures”, which describes how often phone calls may be interrupted, or how often an internet link may experience down time.  Another example of a “level” is the rate at which phone calls are answered within a given time frame.

Aside from these more technological applications, service level agreements can also apply to other fields and industries.  Service levels can also vary depending on whether it is a service provided to customers, or to internal service-based workers (such as IT workers, etc.)

What if a Service-Level Agreement is breached?

Many types of service level agreements are fairly new because they revolve around newly developed technology.  An example of this is with cloud-based data storage.  Here, the laws governing service level agreements may be somewhat limited due to the novelty of the inventions.  However, service level agreements basically operate like any other contract.  A breach of a service level agreement would be adjudicated like any other contract.

Therefore, the court will usually look to the written document to determine whether a breach of contract occurred (for instance, if the service provided failed to deliver the level of service promised).

If a breach is found, the service provided may be required to pay a damages award to the purchaser, in order to cover any losses caused by the violation.  Alternatively, the breaching party may be required to provide the services as listed in the contract.

Do I need a Lawyer if I have any Legal Issues with a Service Level Agreement?

Generally speaking, the assistance of a lawyer may be needed if you have a dispute over a service-level agreement.  Service level agreements can be somewhat complicated, and they often deal with fairly new subject matters.  Thus, you may wish to hire a contract lawyer if you need to file a lawsuit regarding any type of service level dispute.  Your attorney will be able to address the issues and represent you in court.