Those who have been involved in litigating construction disputes will know only too well how lengthy, expensive and disruptive to business they are. There are, however, alternatives which offer practical, sensible and economic methods of resolving such disputes.
Use of Videoconferencing
During a time of social distancing and limited access to courts, Juris offers all forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) through online means. Thus, mediations, arbitrations, adjudications and early neutral evaluations can now be conducted via zoom videoconference by Juris neutrals who have been trained in online resolution.
It is well established that mediation is a very effective tool for resolving construction disputes. This is because the skills of a trained mediator allow the parties to overcome the personal, emotional, factual, technical or legal blocks that are driving the dispute. A skilled mediator can enable the parties to objectively understand and acknowledge their differences and to find a sensible solution to them, not only achieving a ‘fair’ result, but also allowing the business relations between the parties to continue without irreparable harm.
Adjudication is a compulsory, statutory scheme of dispute resolution that applies to construction contracts. It is initiated by any party to such a contract and it provides a speedy, interim resolution of the dispute, enabling the parties to continue the construction project. Adjudicators can be technical experts, but such experts are rarely lawyers and do not always have the legal skills necessary to analysing the facts in the context of the contractual obligations of the parties. Juris has lawyers who are experienced in construction issues and also have the requisite legal training to put such disputes in proper context.
Early Neutral Evaluation
A new and effective tool in construction disputes is the use of early neutral evaluation (ENE) by an experienced Juris arbitrator. ENE is a highly flexible process which allows the parties in dispute to bring their issues before a neutral third party who can provide an advisory opinion on how the dispute is likely to be decided. This can be valuable where the dispute concerns legal issues such as contract interpretation or documentary analysis. The legal expertise of Juris panellists is invaluable in such situations. Because ENE is a quick and private process, it can allow the parties to obtain an informed and rapid decision about their dispute without loss of face or adverse publicity.
Arbitration is a voluntary, private, process, often required by construction contracts, in which the parties can have any dispute resolved by a neutral third party either of their choice or appointed by a disinterested third party. The arbitration process is quicker and cheaper than litigation and the arbitrator’s decision is usually final because the grounds for an appeal are very limited. If properly utilised, arbitration can be very a significant improvement over traditional litigation.
Juris arbitrators offer parties significant advantages over non-legal arbitrators such as engineers or architects. Because Juris arbitrators are experienced judges or lawyers, they can efficiently manage discovery and other pre-hearing issues, they can conduct hearings quickly and effectively and their legal expertise ensures a high level of decision making.
Arbitrations are conducted privately in accordance with a schedule and under rules and arrangements that are agreed in advance by the parties and the arbitrator. The process is flexible and allows for discovery disputes to be resolved quickly and hearings to proceed fairly and efficiently. If desired, the parties can hire their own reporter to make a daily transcript of the hearing and they can, under Juris standards, expect a decision within 30 days of the conclusion of the hearing and final payment.
Once again, where lack of access to the courts or the impossibility of getting all parties together in one room prevents a case being arbitrated, the use of zoom videoconferencing allows Juris arbitrators to get disputes heard and resolved in an efficient and expeditious manner.
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