Good Samaritan clause for Y2K

The Federal Government-funded Year2K Industry Program plans to introduce an Information Disclosure Act or ‘Good Samaritan’ legislation that will address Y2K liability risks under the Trade Practices Act.

Year2K Industry Program national information manager David Leek said the objective of the legislation was to enable businesses (including governments) to share and exchange information about Y2K processing capabilities in good faith and not be held liable if it turned out to be inaccurate or misleading.

“It provides protection from civil liability for statements made prior to June 1999,” Mr Leek said.

“Many operators don’t realise their responsibility to provide a product or a service as part of a supply chain.

“Small to medium businesses ranging in size from zero to 19 employees are the biggest concern. Many either think they have bigger priorities or have not considered the supply chain impact of the problem.

“As part of a supply chain, you have contractual obligations to fulfil. Most business insurance will not cover the legal implications of failure to supply contract as the Y2K problem is a foreseen event.”

Modelled on successful US legislation, the Year 2000 Disclosure Bill 1999 has been recently discussed between the Attorney General Peter Foss and Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan, but it will be up to the Mr Foss to draft the legislation.

A spokesman for Mr Cowan’s office said that the Y2K legislation was “a matter of high priority”.

Year 2K industry Program chairman Maurice Newman said it was expected the legislation would have a profound impact on both the quality and quantity of information that companies are willing to disclose about their Y2K problems, remediation efforts and level of compliance.

“Not only will this initiative provide companies with the necessary protection to enable them to share detailed information and cooperate at a national level, but it will help to generate greater awareness of this critical issue within the wider community in Australia,” he said.

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