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Construction projects can have complexities arising from various issues such as negligence in drawings and specifications, or/and misunderstanding in contractual obligations and interpretations. It can also be a result of payments, extensions of time award, process/scopes and quality.
Adversarial dispute resolutions include Litigation, Arbitration, and Adjudication.
Non-adversarial dispute resolutions include Mediation and Negotiation.
When disputes occur, a clear path to resolve this should be provided in the appointment as a ‘dispute resolution clause’. This aims for a quick outcome for risk management to ensure minimal time and costs build-up, which will impact the project. However, in the event of a dispute arising, it is recommended to negotiate as it’s the least expensive and quickest option. Additionally, if negotiation fails, other dispute resolution options include mediation, adjudication, arbitration and Litigation. The omission of Dispute Resolution in an appointment can create risk and liability.
ARB Code of Conduct Standard 10 states that an architect is expected to deal with disputes or complaints appropriately.
ARB Code of Conduct Standard 4.4 states ‘you are expected to ensure that before you undertake any professional work, you have entered into a written agreement with the client which adequately covers the existence of any alternative dispute resolution schemes that the contract is subject to and how they might be accessed’.
The RIBA Standard Form of Appointment 2020 clause 10 states the parties may attempt to settle any dispute or differences arising under the agreement by mediation in the first instance. Or either party may refer to Adjudication, Arbitration, Litigation or legal proceedings as specified in the contract.