Potential Y2K Litigation

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By Steve Gold, Newsbytes
November 29, 1999

The firm says that, while it is unlikely that the Y2K issue will cause significant disruptions in the UK and the US, the same cannot be said of less developed countries, such as Russia and China where disruptions are expected to be more widespread.

To date, DrParsley.com says, billions of dollars have been invested globally by corporations and governments ensuring that their critical IT systems are Y2K compliant.

Few, however, have considered the potentially huge litigation risk they face from failing to warn their employees or protect them from Y2K IT problems.

The company says that the US Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and the UK's Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 state that employers have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of their employees.

In addition, common law "duty" extends to warning employees of the dangers of going to work in a particular place overseas, and taking reasonable precautions to minimize those dangers both at and outside of work.

DrParsley.com says that some companies argue that their employees will be on vacation over Christmas and are therefore protected, but this will do little good if the problems last for two or three months as a US Senate report recently stated.

Michael Chissick, a partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse, the leading UK law firm, said that companies have a legal obligation to inform employees of risks and to ensure their physical well-being.

"They should be taking reasonable precautions to minimize the disruption caused by the Millennium Bug to employees in high-risk zones," he said.

Jason D'Cruz, a partner at the US law firm of Morris, Manning & Martin, meanwhile, said that, in the US, major corporations are taking precautionary measures for workers scheduled to work over the New Year.

"Such precautionary measures include providing food, flashlights, and emergency systems, for example, in the event of system failures," he said.

D'Cruz added that, under workers' compensation law, a claim for injuries arising out of employment could be brought against a company that fails to warn or take precautionary steps when it sends employees to a country where Y2K problems are widely anticipated and the system failures are substantial.

Mehmet Golhan, DrParsley.com's managing director, said that the company's aim is to raise awareness among employers and individuals of the issues relating to this potential global problem and to provide a "solution" through the compilation of the Millennium Pacs.

As reported previously, the survival packs include a variety of products, all of which are aimed at allowing people to continue operating as usual, no matter what problems occur over the year-end due to Y2K IT problems.

Golhan said that the pre-packaged selection of essential goods in the packs are based on recommendations from the American Red Cross. Home delivery on the packs to anywhere in the world, meanwhile, is provided by UPS, Parcelforce, and Dataforce.

"All the profits from retail sales are being donated to charities such as Age Concern, the Big Issue, and International Rescue," he said.

DrParsley.com's Web site is at http://www.drparsley.com .

Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com . --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- y2k dave (xsdaa111@hotmail.com), November 29, 1999


OT: A recent legal ruling under European law has just prevented temporary Sheriffs from presiding in Scottish courts (our sheriffs are judiciary), creating a crisis in our legal system. Things are going to get very, very crowded after Y2K. I hate to think of the only winners in Y2K being lawyers. :(

-- Colin MacDonald (roborogerborg@yahoo.com), November 29, 1999.

Colin: I'm not familiar with the Scottish legal system but what business should it be for any but the Scots regarding how they run their own legal system?

-- cody (cody@y2ksurvive.com), November 29, 1999.

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