Q. What are the key benefits for utilising mediation to resolve construction disputes?
A. While disputes in construction projects are plainly nothing new, we have seen, since the UK economy began to emerge from the worst depths of the pandemic, a gradual increase in the number of situations where disagreements between the different parties involved with a project have ended up in legal action.
This might be because finances are tighter, supply chains are more challenging or delayed schedules are more demanding, but whatever the reason, resolving these issues is key to enabling projects to keep progressing on time and on budget.
Using mediation to resolve disputes has become an increasingly popular option, as it can allow for commercial relationships to be maintained whilst also ensuring that the works can progress to completion.
It is a voluntary, confidential process through which the participants who are in dispute attempt to negotiate a compromise with the assistance of an independent third party.
The mediator is entirely neutral and does not take sides, but instead simply provides a forum in which participants can work out between themselves what is required to resolve their dispute.
This forum allows both participants to retain an element of control in the situation, in terms of the time and location of the mediation, while mediation can often achieve resolution far more quickly than litigation or court adjudications.
The cost of mediation will likely to be far lower than other legal means of dispute resolution, where cases can naturally run for many months, while finding compromises on a situation allows parties who wish to sustain a commercial relationship or recognise a situation in which the relationship needs to be recast.
Organisations such as the Society of Mediators, the Civil Mediation Council and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators can help you find an appropriate mediator, with due consideration given to the background, personality and skills in relation to the dispute in question.
In the right situations, the benefits of mediation in construction disputes are very clear, and our experience is that positive outcomes can be secured for all parties quickly and cost-effectively by going down this route where it is available.