Construction projects can be huge in size utilising many companies, teams and incorporate lots of different elements. It’s always best to be prepared for when things go wrong rather than endure stress because something has arisen. Knowing what your next steps are in any situation is key to effectively moving forward through difficult situations. So how do you avoid major legal action, loss of time and money when disputes arise?
Plan for them
The first way to avoid major construction disputes is to draft a dispute resolution clause or set of procedures and contacts into your contracts. This positions you to be ready if and when something arises. While solving a dispute is often a challenging process, there is nothing more valuable and important than being prepared. Dispute resolution clauses could be around the pre-agreeing how disputes will be handled right through to who will be brought in to assist in the resolution. Whether work or payments will stop and within what timeframes and based on what guidelines. Preparation is key!
Communicate early and often
When disputes arise it’s very tempting to want to shut off communication, but in reality it’s at these times that communication is the most important. Keep dialogue across both parties active and open with the view of moving towards resolution. Ensure that there is a more open-minded approach to handling communication and a desire to resolve. It’s important that both parties are open with each other about their concerns and reservations.
If a problem does come up, there should be no uncertainty as to how to raise the issue. Encourage open communication while maintaining a degree of maturity during the construction dispute process, or activating the dispute resolution plan.
Choose the right Dispute Resolution team
We’ve looked at planning for disputes before they arise and the importance of communicating early and often, let’s talk about the importance of having the right team. We recently wrote about how an ADR Board (Alternative Dispute Resolution Board) is fast becoming a strategic way to resolve construction disputes. This allows industry representatives to be included in the resolution process alongside the 3rd party mediator.
But many disputes don’t always require such drastic measures. SHAW DR have approx 30 national accredited Mediators that can be available within 48 hours to help resolve issues as they arise, at a location that suits both parties. There is no waiting for the matter to proceed through court, there is no lengthy wait, and no need for major construction delays. In the event mediation does not resolve, we also have Arbitration teams that can take the matter to the next stage.