Five legal bodies sign Y2K mediation accord

Legal organisations in the US, UK, Australasia, Singapore and Hong Kong have recently teamed up to form an initiative to help companies settle disputes relating to the Y2K issue without going to court.

The Millennium Accord is designed to enable companies to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation over Y2K issues through the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), according to the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), one of the five organisations involved.

The other partners are the UK's Centre for Dispute Resolution, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Australia and New Zealand-based group Lawyers Engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution (LEADR), and US-based leading ADR group JAMS/Endispute.

According to LEADR, the disputes arising from the Y2K problem are suitable for mediation as the parties in the dispute will probably need to continue working with one another.

"Mediation is especially useful when there is a continuing relationship between the parties, or when the relationship is important to them," a LEADR report noted. "It is also suitable for disputes where there is room for compromise."

Other advantages of mediation of Y2K disputes are confidentiality, the ability to rebuild relationships, and great savings in time and money, LEADR said in its report.

SMC will mediate Y2K disputes both locally and internationally, and will encourage companies to sign a Millennium Accord Principles declaration that will encourage them to use mediation not litigation, SMC director Teh Hwee Hwee said.

The Singapore Attorney General's Chambers has recommended that government departments here also sign the accord.

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