Dispute boards & IDR

Dispute avoidance and resolution in one

A Dispute Board can be a single person or a panel of normally three or five experienced and impartial industry professionals. The Board is appointed before construction begins and meets on the site periodically, normally every three months. Dispute Board members are provided with the contract documents, become familiar with the project procedures, the parties and are kept abreast of progress and developments.

The Dispute Board encourages the resolution of disputes in the first instance at site level. The members of the Dispute Board will help the parties head off disagreements before they escalate into a major dispute but they can not decide an issue before it is officially referred to them as a dispute.

When an issue cannot be resolved by the parties, it is the Dispute Boards job to review and decide the issue. The Board review includes a hearing at which each party will be given the opportunity to put its case and answer questions. In arriving at a recommendation, the Board members consider the relevant contract documents, correspondence, other documentation, applicable law and the particular circumstances of the dispute.

The Board issues a written recommendation for the resolution of the dispute. This recommendation may be non binding or temporarily binding depending on the contract provisions. A Board that issues a non binding decision is usually known as a Dispute Review Board and one that issues a temporarily binding decision, a Dispute Adjudication Board.

The written decision includes an explanation of the Board’s evaluation of the facts, contract provisions and the reasoning behind its conclusion. Acceptance by the parties if the decision is non binding is facilitated by the parties confidence in the Board members technical expertise, first-hand understanding of the project, legal knowledge and practical judgment.

Dispute Boards are unique in that they have a role to play in dispute avoidance as well as dispute resolution. Evidence shows that they are very effective in reducing the number of disputes as the site personnel engage in less gamesmanship knowing that the Board is overlooking their every move. Disputes are resolved in a less acrimonious atmosphere and during the currency of the project.

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