Thousand year hitch

The article "End of the millennium blues" (The Lawyer, 25 February) by consultants at BDO Stoy Hayward admirably alerts readers to the problems some computer systems will have in accommodating the four-digit date from the year 2000. All solicitors should be advising clients to include 2000 compliance warranties in new computer contracts.

It concentrates on the technical problem and how problems could be corrected. For lawyers, just as interesting is the question of where the liability for such "defective" software falls. Solicitors need to:

examine express contract terms;

consider implied terms;

decide if any exclusion of implied terms or liability generally is valid under UCTA (or for consumers the 1994 Regulations);

check the impact of any limitation period and/or whether negligence could be alleged;

then negotiate with the supplier, as well as considering whether any consultants, in recommending non-compliant systems, are in breach of contract or were negligent.

No one should be encouraged to litigate, but nor should clients accept this is a problem for which they automatically have to pay.

Susan Singleton