For many in the construction industry there is a degree of inevitability that a commercial dispute will arise during the delivery of their project. It’s a view that has some substance as the industry is still seen as adversarial and divisive, with complex, protracted and costly disputes being something of the norm.
However, over the years UK construction has been encouraged to take steps to address its adversarial nature and collaborate. Calls for integrated approaches from the likes of Sir Michael Latham, Sir John Egan and Sir Roy McNulty, and more recent collaborative working principles defined through BS 11000 and ISO 44001, are all designed to reduce the propensity and corrosive consequences of disputes.
In parallel, less lofty routes that seek prompt resolution of disputes have developed and the industry has an established maturity and expertise in a range of early intervention and alternative dispute resolution techniques. However, given the unprecedented levels of investment, both private and public sector clients need to shift their focus from remedies and contractual defences to techniques that decrease the likelihood of disputes arising in the first place.