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LEGAL ISSUES AND Year 2000

Legal: Year 2000 Contract Audits

Existing contractual obligations should undergo a legal audit and evaluation to see how they relate to Year 2000 business risks. Specifically, the audit will determine whether vendors, service providers, insurers or other third parties might be responsible for remedying or bearing the cost of Year 2000 fixes. As well, the areas where an organization may face legal liability should be determined.


Legal: Year 2000 Project Documentation

All organizations, except perhaps some very small businesses should create reports detailing Year 2000 projects. The larger the project the more detailed the reporting will need to be. The usual benefits of record keeping, such as allowing progress review, satisfying statutory requirements and helping conduct the project apply, of course, but in dealing with Year 2000 you may need to provide evidence relating to disputes. You may have a grievance that will need documentation to prove or defend. Larger firms should consult a lawyer to provide protocols that enable your record keeping to be as legal as possible. In a document (Record Keeping: Reports and Documentation) produced by The Institute of Electrical Engineers (Britain), they advice small organizations should at least document the activity of all system checks to include:
· systems investigated
· compliance standards used
· checks and tests performed
· modifications and replacements made
· post-modification checks, tests performed and results
· staff, consultants and their responsibilities
Check out www.iee.org.uk for an excellent guide on embedded technology as well as more on documentation.


Legal: Litigation Predictions and Readiness

Many legal experts are cautioning that Year 2000 will bring forth many claims. Some say litigation costs will be more than fixing the millennium bug. If they are even close to being right don't expect a quick turnaround in the courts. Legal firms specializing in Year 2000 are popping up regularly in the U.S.A. but Canada is slow (so far) to follow this lead. Litigation lawyers familiar with information technology contracts are gearing their services towards larger clients which will leave many smaller organizations in the backlog or with representatives less intimate with the issues. The solution, of course, will be to resolve differences out of court but the ease of filing a statement of claim and the number of contentious issues will keep Y2K around long after 2000.