Dispute Avoidance

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We strongly believe that prevention is better than cure and the avoidance of formal disputes is beneficial to all parties. Despite highly publicised cases in the courts, the vast majority of disputes are settled by negotiation alone.

To facilitate a negotiated settlement CDRS Ltd can give:

  • Advice on dispute avoidance to suit your specific circumstances.
  • Evaluation of claims, defences and counterclaims.
  • Advice at all stages of the construction process.
  • Act as Mediator to facilitate a settlement.
  • Advice on company procedures for record keeping and programming/planning.

The general aim of most modern standard forms of contract is to resolve issues as they arise and not to leave everything until after the completion of the contract. But old habits die hard and it is often the case that parties agree to disagree, allowing the unresolved issues to linger until settlement of the final account. Then there is not just one or two issues to resolve, but many and the exercise of settling those differences becomes disproportionate in both time and cost to that of resolving them as they arose. Don't let this happen, try to deal with disagreements as they arise, afterall, you're going to have to resolve them at some point.

Contractual issues on site are usually dealt with in the first instance by the employer’s Contract Administrator and the contractor’s Quantity Surveyor. If these people disagree the issue is then normally passed up the companies respective management structures.

The obvious question is, if both parties disagree on a point, who’s right? Also human nature plays a part in every disagreement. A party who is too close or attached to a certain point of view is never best placed or sometimes even able to properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a disagreement. Tunnel vision and entrenchment set in, battle lines are drawn, reputations are at stake and agreement is unlikely.

Getting an impartial, second opinion will greatly assist in deciding what to do next. The need for the advice to be impartial can not be overstated. Preferably both parties will participate jointly in this process. Both need to know what their true position is. Many disputes can be avoided if advice is sought early.

In the UK, despite proven benefits, the involvement of third party professionals during a project is often minimal. They are seen as an unnecessary cost but their use early in a matter can be very cost effective. It is certainly usually cheaper than the cost of site and senior management on both sides debating and arguing over the issue, often for months.

Outside of the UK the involvement of impartial third party professionals during the contract is greater. Independent advice is often sought early and Dispute Boards or similar contractual mechanisms are more widely used.

We have unfortunately seen numerous disputes that could have been settled at a much earlier stage had either or both parties taken the time to find out what their true position was. Often no dispute would have arisen in the first place or at the very least, substantial savings of money could have been made by an early and amicable settlement.