The Y2K Challenge – Avoid Y2K litigation

In days gone by, the “Millennium Accord” might be the name for a great social contract or peace treaty. But we live in litigious times, and as we move to the cusp of Y2K, it should be no surprise that big business is using this noble phrase to describe a plan to avoid — you guessed it — lawsuits.

Business leaders in Canada and around the world are looking to the Millennium Accord to avoid potentially staggering Y2K litigation costs, which some experts estimate will exceed $1.3 trillion in the United States alone. Whatever does and doesn’t happen as a result of the millennium bug, the world’s corporations are looking for any venue but the court room to resolve potential disputes and lawsuits.

More than a dozen of Canada’s leading business organizations have already signed a declaration of support to use “alternative dispute resolution” (negotiation and mediation) as a first step to avoid turning to the courts. Outside Canada, more than 500 business, government and industry organizations have made a commitment to the Millennium Accord.

Even with the Millennium Accord, Y2K bug problems absolutely will produce litigation, according to Gaylen Duncan, president andEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). Duncan says that “the stakes are very high and organizations will look for a scapegoat to this immense problem.”

He’s probably right. Unless, of course, the problem isn’t immense, and passes like just another New Year’s Eve.