Public Procurement and Property
Avoiding conflicts beats dealing with disputes
Construction Policy Unit recently hosted an event in partnership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The focus was on raising awareness of the processes used to avoid conflict through intervening at the earliest stages in construction projects to address disputes. Delegates from a range of Scottish public bodies heard presentations from Martin Burns, Head of RICS Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Dr John Fletcher, ADR Products Group Director.
They spoke informatively about the progression of ADR processes from their original basis in land and property disputes, through to their application in complex and dynamic construction projects. Explaining that RICS is leading a coalition of other influential organisations like the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Royal Institution of British Architects and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, to ensure that ADR’s governance processes also observe its operational hallmarks of communication and collaboration.
Using the Conflict Avoidance Process in construction projects
ADR has the potential to move into the mainstream as a low cost, quick way to avoid conflict, providing an opportunity for both clients and contractors to address disputes and avoid escalation into comparatively costly, regulated formats such as arbitration and adjudication. Speakers explained that the Conflict Avoidance Process (CAP) in particular is scaleable to contract value. It can be written into standard contracts such as NEC, SBCC and GC/Works, allowing it to be applied to regular public sector projects as well as major national and international infrastructure projects.
Delegates heard that while CAP delivers a non-binding opinion, should either party choose not to accept it, at least the basis and form of their arguments will have been robustly tested from a commercial and reputational perspective, informing any further escalation considered necessary. Other, more formal, dispute resolution procedures are still available to the contracting parties.
The speakers also offered delegates the opportunity to propose projects on which CAP or other ADR processes could be applied, to help the RICS Scottish working group develop local practice.
For any Scottish Government colleagues who have such a project, in the first instance please contact John.Mclean@gov.scot in Construction Policy Unit, who will then put you in touch with RICS.
Other public bodies are asked to contact RICS directly at email@example.com.