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Business ADR - Millennium Accord

Millennium Accord
[ The Foundation's Role ] Profile ] Declare Support ] Training ] Y2K Links ]
 
THE FOUNDATION'S ROLE

Introduction

There has been much publicity to date on the nature of the year 2000 ("Y2K" or "millennium-bug") problem and the financial costs and technical challenges that our society faces in dealing with it. However, there has been very little public dialogue, to date, about how we will sort out the claims that will inevitably arise from unresolved problems. Independent information technology consulting firms estimate legal fees and other litigation costs with respect to Y2K disputes will range from $600 billion U.S. to $1.3 trillion U.S.

We can use the courts to resolve these Y2K disputes. However, in many cases, litigation takes too long and costs too much – and has an uncertain outcome. Certain alternatives to litigation – more commonly known as "alternative dispute resolution" or "ADR" – may be a better, more cost-effective way to resolve these Y2K disputes. In fact, President Clinton signed a bill on July 20, 1999 that encourages parties with Y2K disputes to resolve problems using ADR as the first resort and litigation as the last resort. The new law requires a prospective plaintiff with a Y2K claim to send a written notice to each prospective defendant before commencing litigation. Prospective defendants then have thirty days to provide responses to the notice and advise whether they are willing to consider using ADR to resolve the dispute.

The Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution is working to raise awareness, within the business community in Canada, of an international initiative – the Millennium Accord – to resolve Y2K disputes. The Canadian Foundation for dispute Resolution is a non-profit alliance of over sixty business corporations and professional organizations in Canada working together to promote creative and cost-effective resolution of business disputes.

The Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution and its Millennium Accord Advisory Board believe that the Millennium Accord initiative is in the best interests of the Canadian business community. And we encourage you to support it.

The Value of ADR

There are significant benefits from using mediation and other ADR processes to resolve business disputes. Recent studies and court-annexed ADR pilot projects demonstrate that cases resolved using ADR settle or otherwise resolve themselves more quickly, at a lower cost, and with greater party satisfaction than by going to court.

Success rates for settlements frequently range from about 60% to more than 80% – often at a much earlier time. Important business relationships are not unduly disrupted. And, in using ADR, you never foreclose your option of going to court if that route ultimately becomes necessary.

The Millennium Accord

The Millennium Accord is an international initiative to promote prevention and timely, effective resolution of millennium-related disagreements. It consists of:

  • Accord Principles – short, specific principles that incorporate reference to certain procedures before resorting to litigation or arbitration;
  • an Accord Procedure – for flexible, fast-track negotiation and mediation;
  • an Accord Contract Clause – to include in any commercial agreement which may give rise to a millennium problem; and
  • a Declaration of Support – a public statement of commitment to problem solving through use of ADR – not a legally binding commitment.

Our Role in the Millennium Accord

The Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution is participating in the Millennium Accord with prominent ADR organizations in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. Its purpose is to promote greater awareness of the ways in which alternative dispute resolution can assist business organizations in resolving Y2K disputes.

The Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution will accomplish this by:

  • seeking sponsors to assist us with funding for our efforts to promote the Millennium Accord through selective advertising and promotion, including costs of printing and mailing;
  • encouraging media coverage across Canada to raise awareness of this initiative;
  • developing, promoting and hosting national Y2K training programs for ADR neutrals (mediators and arbitrators) and ADR lawyers on technical and legal issues, to enable them to become more competent and deal more effectively with Year 2000 disputes;
  • establishing an online "ADR-Connect" information database to enable parties to conduct searches for ADR neutrals and ADR lawyers on our Internet website, so that they can better identify neutrals or lawyers with the requisite experience, training and/or capability; and
  • establishing an interim Y2K roster of mediators and arbitrators, with capability to handle Y2K disputes using ADR, until such time as our national Y2K training programs are complete.

How Your Organization Can Participate

We need the assistance of leading business organizations in Canada – such as yours – to ensure the success of these objectives . Potential opportunities arising from use of the Millennium Accord's ADR procedure include cost reductions, savings of time, maintaining important business relationships, and more effective use of management time. Your organization can assist by becoming:

  • a sponsor of the Millennium Accord,
  • a signatory of the “Declaration of Support”, and/or
  • a member of the Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution.

If you need assistance in using the Accord to resolve problems, we can help. Our new service, ADR·Connect, can help you find the ADR professionals and services you need for alternative dispute resolution.

If you would like further information on becoming a signatory or a sponsor, or if you would like to become a member of the Foundation, please contact us at foundation@cfdr.org, or by telephone at (416) 487-4733.

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