Australia: Risk Logs, Risk Registers, Risk Management Plans And Assumptions

Last Updated: 27 February 2007
Article by Dayan J. Quinn
  1. Introduction
  2. Many contracts for the supply of information technology systems expressly require the supplier to manage risks to the successful and timely implementation of the information technology system.

    The risk management services frequently extend to maintaining a risk log or risk register and preparing and implementing a risk management plan. An example of items that may appear in a risk register is set out below:

    Risk name


    Impact of risk

    Change of ownership of customer

    Change in customer ownership could lead to project disruption



    Roll-out of the system is large and timetable is aggressive


    Project leadership turnover

    Project leadership turnover will impact project timeline


    Third party skills

    Third party skills not available in time


    The supplier also frequently expressly includes a list of assumptions that underpin the provision of the services. The list of assumptions drafted by suppliers can be quite extensive. In some cases the assumptions will address issues and risks which are already addressed elsewhere in the contract. Each of the risks in the above risk register can be recast as an assumption: for example, an assumption can be included that there will be minimal project leadership turnover.

    Both the risk management services and list of assumptions are incorporated into the schedules to the contract. In many cases the risk log, risk register or risk management plan will not be attached to the contract that is executed but will instead be incorporated by reference or prepared and signed off by the customer after contract signature.

    Companies which want to understand how risk is allocated in the contract need to understand the impact of risk logs, risk registers, risk management plans and assumptions.

  3. Allocation of risk in the contract
  4. Risk allocation and risk management are key functions of contract. Nearly every contractual term has some impact on risk. Conventional contractual risk allocation is addressed in clauses stating performance obligations and warranties, force majeure, extensions of time, limitations of liability and exclusion clauses. Clauses stating performance obligations are positive internal risk allocators. Clauses such as exclusion clauses are negative risk allocators.

    The description of the supplier’s performance obligations and risk management services – including the risk log, risk register or risk management plan - in the schedules has a key impact on risk allocation in the contract. Schedules (and documents incorporated by reference in the schedules) are generally prepared by commercial or technical representatives of the parties involved. Therefore, they may not receive the same level of legal scrutiny or involvement. The language used in the schedules may mean it is unclear how risk is allocated between the parties. In particular, it is sometimes not clear how the risk logs, risk registers and risk management plans and assumptions which are incorporated or referred to in the schedules fit within the overall framework of the contract.

  5. The ambiguity issue
  6. The major problem with risk logs, risk registers and the risk management plan is understanding the relationship with the contractual allocation of risk such as force majeure, extension of time, liquidated damages, liability clauses (such as indemnities) and variation.

    On one hand the risk logs, risk register or risk management plan may not look to be a reflection of the contractual allocation of risk so much as a statement of (and to some extent an attribution of responsibility for) potential risks inherent in the project or a contract management tool. On the other hand, they may purport to broaden the risk allocation mechanisms found in the terms and conditions of the contract itself. If there is no indication (in the contract itself) of the status of the risk log, risk register and risk management plan and the relationship with the conventional contract provisions addressing risk allocation it is a potential source of confusion and disagreement between the parties. For example, where a risk is described in the risk register as having an impact on schedule or cost, then is the customer assuming the burden of that risk? Has the pricing been negotiated in the context of that risk?

    Similarly, there will typically be no indication as to the status of the list of assumptions and the consequences if an assumption is not valid. The effect of the list of assumptions without a status explanation seems to be that the customer will bear the burden of events which render the assumption invalid and which causes delay or increased costs to the supplier. The inclusion of assumptions can broaden the basis for the supplier to be able to recover additional costs or claim an extension of time (or both), on the basis that one or more of the assumptions is not valid. For example, there may be an assumption that all of the customer staff allocated to the project are suitably skilled and qualified. There may already be a commitment to that effect from the customer expressed as an obligation or warranty in the contract. However, the risk to the customer of expressing this as an assumption is that the supplier may claim an extension of time or additional costs on the basis that the assumption is not correct in circumstances where the supplier may not be entitled to make such a claim under the contract itself.

  7. Solution

Careful consideration needs to be given to the impact of risk logs, risk registers, risk management plans and assumptions in an assessment of the risk allocation in the contract. The question in each case will be what the party intend for the allocation of risk, and what consequences follow if the risk materialises.

The contract should include a clear statement of the status of the risk logs, risk registers, risk management plans and assumptions. This could be achieved by a priority clause setting out the order of precedence of interpretation between the contract and the schedules. A general priority clause may not be sufficient to exclude from the operation of the contract any detailed material forming part of the schedules – particularly where the contract itself says that the parties agree to comply with the schedules.

Generally, the contract should also include a statement of the level of responsibility, that is, whether compliance is a matter of best endeavours or a strict duty. The contract should also specify the consequences of any of these risks or assumptions being triggered – for example, will they lead to an extension of time, additional costs or both (or neither). The parties should also consider clearly spelling out the processes for dealing with each risk if it materialises to the extent this is not described in the description of the risk management services itself.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.