ICE Construction ADR Conference
03 February 2010
Burges Salmon recently sponsored the Institution of Civil Engineers' (ICE) annual Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) conference. The day, attended by a cross section of contractors, consultants and lawyers, had a mix of presentations and workshop sessions with partner Will Gard chairing the adjudication workshop. Steve James and Catherine Gilbert from the construction and engineering team also attended.
There were some lively debates on current trends in construction ADR and the willingness of the construction industry to use ADR instead of traditional methods of dispute resolution. Key themes to come out of the conference were:
- Mediation and adjudication were viewed very positively by the industry as not only methods of resolving disputes but also maintaining commercial relationships.
- Litigation and arbitration have their place as final and binding forms of dispute resolution, but should not be undertaken lightly and should be regarded as a last resort.
- Arbitration still has its advantages especially on large projects with an international dimension and where confidentiality is important.
- Adjudication remains in favour and is seen as a powerful tool in unlocking disputes.
- Dispute resolution boards (DRBs) are becoming more common on larger projects and can be a fast, flexible method of resolving problems as and when they arise.
The overriding message from the conference is that ADR is here to stay and – far from being "weaker" or less effective then arbitration or litigation – can be a powerful and cost effective method of resolving disputes. In any event, the courts have been shown over recent years to be supportive of ADR to the extent that parties ending up in court who have unreasonably refused to mediate (or try another form of ADR) may be penalised by a costs order even if they are successful at trial.
We at Burges Salmon are experienced in all forms of ADR including negotiation, adjudication, mediation and conciliation. We appreciate the construction industry's desire for practical, cost effective and proportionate solutions for resolving disputes. If you are involved in a construction dispute please contact anyone in our team to discuss how ADR could work for you.
We would like to thank the ICE for staging the conference and to all those who attended for their contributions to a lively and informative day.