Dispute Resolution Services

WT Partnership provide specialist advice in the procurement and management of Construction Contracts for Building Employers, Contractors and Sub-Contractors in the construction industry. Expertise in Quantity Surveying, Project Management, Facilities Management and Construction Contract Law ensures the client benefits from the protection afforded by a robust and comprehensive commercial approach to any building project. The key to successful dispute resolution is early involvement and promoting active dialogue with the other party. The emphasis being on dispute avoidance to pre-empt engagement in formal dispute resolution.

We firmly believe that the best route to dispute resolution is dispute avoidance. Sometimes disputes are inevitable but in which case WT Partnership will help you find a path to resolution in order to minimise the cost of achieving a robust and comprehensive commercial outcome, settled at the lowest possible level. In most cases we will provide a no-obligation initial assessment of your position.

We are able to advise on the benefits of a range of options to achieve a settlement. Such options are not mutually exclusive and include:

This should be the first recourse to settling any dispute in order to minimise costs and to settle the dispute at the lowest possible level. WT Partnership can provide expert advice in drafting contracts and sub-contracts to ensure the contract terms contain provisions that facilitate early engagement and a hierarchical approach to resolving disputes prior to commencing formal dispute resolution procedures. Such provisions could include the use of early expert determination, the establishment of a project dispute resolution board or the inclusion of terms to deal specifically with extensions of time and loss and expense claims. In the event of a contractual claim arising, whether the requirement is to construct a claim or to defend against one, it is important that the advice received by a client enables documentation to be assembled and presented in a structured way that details the case clearly and robustly and, if required, best suits the needs of any tribunal in rapidly understanding the merits of a case. This needs experience in drafting, a clear understanding of the obligations of the parties under the contract in question and good negotiation skills in support of the client.

Most disputes that go forward to formal dispute resolution require the production of expert evidence i.e. evidence of opinion rather than fact. There are strict protocols that govern the submission of expert evidence and the requirement for the experts of the opposing parties to close the gap between them in order to save time and costs. WT Partneship have staff who are experienced construction and property experts who have produced reports and have faced cross examination. Areas in which expert reports have been produced include quantum evaluation i.e. the level of damages suffered, the expected level of performance by a party and professional negligence claims against project managers/ contract administrators and cost advisors.

Mediation has grown in popularity in recent years as a means of settling disputes quickly and at a lower cost that other forms of dispute resolution. It is the case that often the courts will require parties to engage in mediation in an effort to save court time. The effectiveness of mediation has proven to be high, the large majority of disputes referred to mediation settle with the settlement being subject to a contractual agreement. WT Partnership have staff who are accredited mediators who can accept appointments as mediators or can act as advisors is assisting clients to prepare for a mediation and provide support through the mediation process. This is often linked to the provision of expert advice.

WT Partnership have staff who have experience as acting as adjudicators and can provide expert advice in supporting clients in mounting or defending against an adjudication notice. Again the key to success is early involvement in the analysis of the dispute and, as previously mentioned, the subsequent well structured documentation submission. In the case of a responding party it is important that sufficient preparation is undertaken to prevent being “ambushed” by the claimant and thereafter struggle to respond to a demanding time scale.

Although adjudication has been the principal route of dispute resolution in construction disputes in recent years, developments in more modern and flexible arbitration proceedings which have introduced fast tracking and capped costs of the arbitration have meant that arbitration has begun to re-gain ground as a preferred route for dispute resolution. Arbitration has always had the advantage over adjudication of providing a binding settlement. In the past it has suffered from high cost and extended timescales in order to reach a resolution that have reproduced the same disadvantages as court proceedings. However these disadvantages are being eliminated by a more modern approach. WT Partnership have staff who are experienced arbitrators and also chartered quantity surveyors. If appointed as arbitrator, this means that the arbitrator is an experienced specialist in construction disputes, who will use the powers conferred by the 1996 Arbitration Act to endure the process is run to a strict timetable which eliminate delay and may be settled on a documents only basis without a formal hearing. Alternatively WT Partnership staff can assist a client in the drafting of contract documents to include reference to efficient arbitration procedure and subsequently assist in case preparation and assisting a client’s legal representatives in the case management.

John Hinchliffe

John Hinchliffe

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