Negotiate, not litigate on Y2K

WA COMPANIES are being asked to sign an accord that puts negotiation ahead of litigation in dealing with Y2K disputes.

And the LEADR Millennium Accord has already drawn the

support of one of WA’s top companies – Wesfarmers.

Minter Ellison partner and LEADR WA chair and national director Greg Steinepreis said LEADR promoted mediation between parties.

“The beauty of negotiation and mediation is that settlement options are virtually unlimited,” Mr Steinepreis said.

“The idea is to use a bit of lateral thinking. It helps one party to see the other side’s case.”

Mr Steinepreis said LEADR had joined with other alternative

dispute resolution groups such as CEDR, JAMSEndispute, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore Mediation Centre to prepare the Y2K accord.

“We realised there were going to be a number of Y2K disputes and a need to mend commercial relationships,” he said.

“It’s likely Y2K disputes are going to be between companies and suppliers and companies and their customers.

“Mediation works best in commercial relationships because people don’t want to work together while they are battling in court.”

Mr Steinepreis said there were already cases before US courts over Y2K issues.

“These are mostly from companies that are having to upgrade their software to be Y2K compliant and are suing their software suppliers and IT advisors,” he said.

The accord is a non-legally binding pledge.

“I think it’s a wise commercial approach to the problem,” Mr Steinepreis said.

“I think companies will be attracted to signing the accord as it shows they are mindful of being good corporate citizens.”

There are 500 companies and governments worldwide that have already signed the accord.

Mr Steinepreis said Westpac Bank had agreed to sign and the Australian Competition and Consu-mer Commission had accepted the accord’s principles.

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