Chambers face costly millennium upgrade

DOZENS of chambers face having to spend thousands of pounds upgrading their computer systems after a major supplier informed them that the practice management software they are using is not millennium-compliant.

Leading IT supplier ACE has told chambers which use its popular ACE Infinity Text practice management system, as well as the older Pick system, that it is not warranting the systems as millennium compliant.

And although ACE is offering to upgrade chambers' software by installing its newest product, Infinity for Windows, free of charge, a number of sets have complained to The Lawyer that they will have to upgrade the hardware needed to run the new system at their own expense.

A senior clerk at one of London's top chambers said it had estimated that the new hardware would cost £50,000.

ACE supplies practice management systems to about 80 per cent of chambers, some of which have already installed Infinity for Windows.

Some sets are reported to be happy with the system, but one, Patrick Milmo QC's chambers at 5 Raymond Buildings, switched to a system produced by ACE's major rival Meridian.

A source at the chambers said it “could not wait any longer” for ACE to improve the system.

ACE was unavailable for comment. But in a circular to chambers announcing an August release date for the “full Infinity for Windows” software, ACE accepted that the system's development had taken a long time.

In a separate leaflet – Defusing the Millennium Time Bomb – ACE warns its customers: “There is likely to be such a high demand for equipment and services during 1998 that we recommend that you plan well in advance of anticipated demand.”