Leap year 2000 could stop firms mid-flight

LAW firms intent on guarding themselves against the millenium "bug" and ensuring they are euro-compliant now have to address a third, less well-known problem, according to independent legal IT consultant Neil Cameron.

Cameron believes many software designers will not have taken into account thefact that the year 2000 will be a leap year. This is because traditionally the first year of each century does not count as a leap year. However, if the year is divisible by 400 it is designated as a leap year. This last happened in1600.

Cameron said that while some IT companies, including Microsoft, claimed their systems were prepared for this problem, many computers would simply ignore the 29 February 2000 and chaos could ensue in the accounting and billing systems of many firms.

Resolution Systems legal division head Alby Smith said that he had not heard of the leap year phenomenon but said firms would find the "fiddly process" of resetting every date on every personal computer and piece of computing equipment a "huge problem".

Smith said that firms might be able to save time on this by making all the relevant changes via the firm's central server, and also claimed the problem would not affect most law firms as most use Microsoft-based products.