Pressure on all fronts!

Following our report on Friday that Arbor were ‘gunning for SIMS’ with their open letter to all SIMS customers, it turns out that Bromcom had already taken the lead in this battle and had fired the first shots offering a full indemnity to schools and by applying to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to halt what they describe as ‘this anti-competitive behaviour by ESS Ltd.’

This follows ESS announcing to schools that they could not use their SIMS backups to migrate schools’ data into another MIS, despite this having been standard practise for many years.

Firing another salvo, Bromcom is also applying to the High Court for an injunction to halt this move by ESS. Bromcom insist that they are confident that schools would not be in breach of contract by providing SIMS SQL backups and state that they are initiating injunction proceedings to halt ESS’ legal threats to schools, support centres and MIS suppliers regarding migration processes.

Bromcom have openly stated that they will cover approved legal costs for any schools where SIMS (ESS) take legal action against them over this matter by applying to join the proceedings. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that a damages payment to ESS materialises, Bromcom state that they will also take responsibility for this payment.

This action by Bromcom is hardly unexpected. In 2003, Bromcom achieved a significant milestone by securing the first-ever voluntary assurance for the provision of APIs to third parties in the EdTech market from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), thereby opening up opportunities for ‘bolt-on’ products benefiting the entire industry.

Subsequently, in May 2020, Bromcom took legal action against United Learning, claiming that they had breached procurement law when awarding a multi-year MIS contract for 57 schools to Arbor. Their claim was later upheld in the High Court, which ruled that United Learning had committed four separate sets of breaches of procurement law and that the contract should in fact have been awarded to Bromcom who would have won ‘by some margin’.

So, we now have both Bromcom and Arbor opening up fronts against ESS SIMS, with each stating that their reasons for doing so is that schools should be able to simply and easily switch to whichever MIS they wish.

Indeed, a statement from Ali Guryel, CEO of Bromcom, states

“Bromcom’s position is that schools should proceed with their migration process.

He went on to say:

If ESS initiate any legal action against schools, Bromcom will apply to join the proceedings and Bromcom will cover approved legal costs for these schools. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that a damages payment to ESS materialises, Bromcom will also take responsibility for this payment.

We hope this brings some reassurance to schools who simply wish to exercise their rights to their own data, and to select software of their choosing. At Bromcom, we are dedicated to leading by example, advocating for transparency, best procurement practices, fair competition, and open systems within the education ecosystem”.

It seems likely that this war will continue to be waged for some time to come.

Whilst the outcome is unclear, we hope that the eventual winners will be the schools and MATs, who will be able to select whatever software they wish to use and have their data migrated into it, as easily and securely as possible.

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