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Business ADR - Millennium Accord

Millennium Accord
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ACCORD PROFILE

INTRODUCTION

Why?

The advent of the millennium has given rise to a major challenge to business worldwide - coping with the inability of potentially numerous IT systems properly to recognise the year 2000 date change. This is commonly known as the "millennium problem".

Whilst the problem is technically simple, its scope and impact (particularly in the telecoms, banking and IT sectors) cannot be underestimated.

The Millennium Accord ("the Accord"), building on current commercial mediation practice, is designed to:

  • reduce the potential for confrontation and dispute between businesses and/or public sector organisations arising from the millennium problem;
  • encourage and facilitate the exchange of information on any millennium problem on a without prejudice basis; and
  • promote a cost-effective approach to resolving millennium problem differences and disputes, whether domestic or international.

How?

The Accord consists of:

Accord Principles which are short, specific principles on dealing with any millennium problem difference or dispute - including the use of the Accord Procedure to attempt to resolve any difference (such as a deadlocked negotiation about providing information or a "millennium" warranty) or an actual dispute, before resorting to litigation or arbitration. The reference to differences, and not just disputes, is intended to catch potential disputes at an early stage with the aim of preventing them escalating into actual disputes.

Any company or other organisation which is willing publicly to support the Principles can sign the Declaration of Support and become an Accord Signatory. The Declaration is not a legally binding commitment but is intended to be:

  • a public statement of commitment to problem-solving rather than problem-escalation
  • a recognition that many technology systems are not stand-alone but linked to networks stretching well beyond the company or organisation itself - and in many cases, well beyond national borders.

Accord Procedure, a flexible fast-track negotiation and mediation procedure.

The first stage of the procedure provides for negotiations at management level, so that the problem is passed to individuals who are not directly involved in the matters giving rise to the dispute or the dispute itself and have not been involved in any previous negotiations. They should also have the authority in their own right to settle the case.

If the management negotiations do not result in a settlement, the second stage is mediation, using a trained and experienced neutral third party to facilitate settlement. It is intended that the Accord mediation body (see below – "the Accord body") in the country or region where the mediation is to take place administers the mediation and that the parties use the model mediation procedure (or rules) of that body (although they may agree to use another model procedure).

Accord Contract Clause for inclusion in a commercial agreement which may give rise to a millennium problem. The use of a contract clause ought to pre-empt the concern a party might otherwise have about making the opening move in settlement discussions.


International scope

A number of leading mediation bodies around the world have agreed to co-operate in connection with the Accord. This will:

  • assist in widespread dissemination of the Accord Principles
  • enable efficient use of the Accord Procedure wherever it is being used, particularly for multi-national disputes, regardless of their complexity and scale.

The Millennium Accord is the initiative of CEDR, which has brought together the following bodies (each an "Accord body") in this collaborative effort:

  • CEDR (Europe)
  • JAMSEndispute (USA)
  • LEADR (Australia & NZ)
  • Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre   (Asia)
  • Singapore Mediation Centre (Asia)
  • The Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution (Canada)

CEDR will act as the co-ordinating Accord body.

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