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RE: Is a choreography a contract

From: Burdett, David <david.burdett@commerceone.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 18:27:55 -0700
Message-ID: <C1E0143CD365A445A4417083BF6F42CC08391918@C1plenaexm07.commerceone.com>
To: Assaf Arkin <arkin@intalio.com>, "Monica J. Martin" <monica.martin@sun.com>
Cc: Bob Haugen <rhaugen@speakeasy.net>, public-ws-chor@w3.org
Catching up on some emails ...

This whole thread about contracts and how choreographies relate to them is
interesting, but I also don't think it is particularly relevant to the work
of this group ... maybe I'm wrong.

The basic idea behind any contract is that there is an exchange of "value"
(as in the economic contract). E.g you will provide the goods if I give you
the money.

However there can also be an agreement or contract surrounding the exchange
of "value", the complexity of which can vary. For example, it can be simple:
you give $0.25c to a street vendor in the expectation that they will provide
you with the news paper you requested; to complex: where you specify exactly
what the goods or service will be, how they will be delivered, when they
will be delivered, who will deliver them, what the remedies are if something
goes wrong, etc, etc.

So in some contracts "how the service is delivered" could include reference
to the choreography definition used, although this is but *one* of many
other factors that can describe the "how".

You can also choreography definitions can exist without a contract. For
example, the fact you can have the architectural plans for building a house
doesn't mean that anyone is committed to building the house for you. On the
other hand, any reasonable house building contract will always reference the
architectural plans to be used. You could even get multiple house building
contracts that reference the same building plans.

So really I see a choreography definition as something that a contract would
use, rather than the other way round, so as long as we include ways by which
a contract definition be referenced by a contract, probably by requiring
that each definition is identified with a URI, then that is all we need to
be able to do.

Assaf also mentions whether you need to reference the contract in the
contract in the FedEx slip. The answer is probably no because of the many
different ways in which business can get done which usually leads to a
degree of indirection between the documents used in every day business and
the legal agreements that go with them. Here are a few examples ...

An individual goes along to FedEx and asks them to ship some goods.
Typically in doing this you will get a receipt which tells you where you can
get the FedEx published terms of use, or perhaps there is a sign displayed
on the wall. By paying the amount and FedEx accepting the goods for
delivery, the individual is implicitly accepting those published terms.

Also the terms usually say that they can be changed from time to time,
therefore it is important to know when the transactions were entered into to
work out excactly agreement was in force.

Either way, there is no need to reference the terms on any of the

Perhaps FedEx is providing a logistics service to deliver goods. In this
case there will be a one-off contract which, if it is sensible will include
things like price as well as service-levels etc that apply.

In this case, determining the contract that applies to any shipment only
needs to know who the parties involved are and the date and time, again
there is no need to identify the contract by number.

You might also have an individual contract that applies to an Order or a set
of Orders. In this case, the Order would reference the Contract, and the
Invoice, Shipment Notice, etc would reference the Order and therefore,
indirectly the Contract.

These comments are based on I've work done on developing business documents
such as xCBL [1].

PS My wife's a lawyer which means of course that I have to say that nobody
should rely on anything contained in this email ;)

[1] http://www.xcbl.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Assaf Arkin [mailto:arkin@intalio.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 1:06 PM
To: Monica J. Martin
Cc: Bob Haugen; public-ws-chor@w3.org
Subject: Re: Is a choreography a contract

Monica J. Martin wrote:

>> Of course you'll need to present the choreography itself and 
>> execution log, also expect to present e-mails, snailmail and phone 
>> call logs related to any escalation of the issue, whatever it takes 
>> to prove that things did not execute accordingly and where they went 
>> wrong.
> mm1: And a reference back to the context of the economic agreement 
> that binds the interactions.
Again the question here: is this necessary?

If under the contract I'm obliged to send someone a package do I need 
the FedEx slip to reference the contract? If under the contract I issue 
an invoice demanding payment, does the invoice need to reference the 
contract? Why would a choreography definition be any difference?

This is just not my understanding of how the legal system works and so I 
don't see why back referencing is necessary in a court of law or even 
arbitration. Time to bring in the legal guns and see if they consider it 
an issue ;-)

Received on Wednesday, 4 June 2003 21:28:10 UTC

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