Dispute Boards are an alternative way to resolve disputes on construction projects. Dispute Boards have been found to be most effective on complex projects particularly those overseas.
Dispute Boards are variously known as “Dispute Boards” (DB’s), or “Dispute Review Boards” (DRB’s). There are also Dispute Adjudication Boards, (“DAB’s).
Dispute Boards are usually set up at the start of the contract. On larger projects there is usually 3 members, all of whom are agreed to by the parties to the contract with the costs of appointment and on-going costs being shared equally by the parties to the contract. In smaller projects it is usual that there will only be 1 member. The object in setting up such a board is for potential issues to be resolved before they become a problem. It is usual for the Board members to visit site on a regular basis, and to talk to the Employer and the contractors about any concerns arising. If the matter cannot be resolved informally then the Board can sit formally and give its decision with reasons.
Dispute Adjudication Boards are similar and are often used in international projects especially under the FIDIC contract forms as this gives another cost effective way to resolve disputes quickly.
We promote the use of Dispute Board in projects domestically and internationally. Our team of dual-qualified lawyers have been appointed as Dispute Board members based on their:
- knowledge and expertise in the construction industry;
- appreciation that every construction project is unique;
- impartiality, objectivity and observance of the confidential nature of disputes;
- ability to work as a team with other board members;
- ability to prevent the escalation of disputes;
- ability to preserve commercial and business relationships between the parties and stakeholders;
- availability to regularly visit project sites and attend DB meetings.
Our experience in both formal and informal dispute boards processes has shown us that by getting involved at the outset of a project, we get to know the parties, their goals and objectives. We can therefore act quickly to help prevent any dispute or conflict from arising.
Robert Shawyer is on the RICS Dispute Board panel.