New bill aims to limit Y2K litigation

A bipartisan group in the House of Representatives introduces yet another bill to help protect companies as well as consumers from the Year 2000 technology problem.

Another bill in Congress looks to limit litigation caused by the Year 2000 technology problem.

Introduced in the House of Representatives today by a bipartisan group of representatives led Back to Year 2000 Index Page by California Republican Christopher Cox, The Year 2000 Readiness and Responsibility Act encourages mitigation, not litigation, when it comes to the Y2K bug.

"Year 2000 legal costs could exceed $1 trillion, far more than the cost of fixing the problem," Cox said in a statement. "The threat of litigation is delaying and complicating good faith efforts to fix the Year 2000 computer problem."

The bill looks protect people and companies that make "reasonable efforts" to prevent Y2K failures, and penalize those who don't. Additionally, the bill will encourage alternative ways of resolving disputes over Year 2000 issues to avoid costly litigation, according to Cox's office.

The proposed measure also looks to make sure people are responsible for the share of Y2K problems they may have caused, while it protects consumer's rights by requiring lawyers to disclose their fees and actual services performed.

"This litigation is top priority, because there must be every incentive for people and companies to take all steps reasonably necessary to solve Year 2000 problems before they happen," said Cox, who is also chairman of the House Policy Committee.

The bill represents the second of its kind filed this year that is waiting for Congressional approval.

As reported earlier, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) submitted a bill in the Senate that also looks to limit the number of lawsuits that can be filed in an attempt to protect technology companies from unnecessary litigation.

The issue of providing protection for companies against litigation is one of the more heated controversies of the Y2K problem, and has cut across political party lines.

Before the Congressional passage and presidential signing of the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act, which provides limited liability protections to encourage companies to share information about products, methods, and best practices, legal experts had debated whether the act protected consumer rights. Some members of Congress argued it didn't provide enough litigation protection.

As with the Disclosure Act earlier, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) have said publicly it will "actively oppose" McCain's bill because they believe it provides companies too much protection. The association has not yet commented on Cox's bill.

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