04 Aug 2023
In our world, conflict is inevitable, but what truly matters is how we approach dispute resolution. The conference on "Dispute Resolution in International Construction Contracts", organised by Ciarb Cyprus Branch, brought together industry experts and professionals to explore various aspects of dispute resolution within the construction industry.
The conference featured eight insightful sessions that provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the field. The sessions were structured to facilitate in-depth exploration and lively discussions, each focusing on a specific aspect of dispute resolution within the context of international construction contracts. Topics included cultural influences on dispute resolution, effective mediation, delay adjudication, expert analysis, tiered dispute resolution clauses, challenges with FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) forms, statutory adjudication, and energy transition disputes.
Renowned speakers delivered informative presentations, followed by engaging panel discussions, fostering a dynamic environment for knowledge sharing, collaborative problem-solving, and networking among attendees from various professional backgrounds.
Several key takeaways emerged from the sessions, highlighting significant insights and lessons learned:
1. Addressing cultural and language differences
Dispute resolution professionals must understand and address cultural and language differences in international construction contract disputes. Understanding and overcoming potential biases can lead to fairer and more equitable resolutions. As construction disputes become more complex and involve multicultural and multilingual parties, the importance of dispute resolution continues to rise. Skilled dispute resolution professionals with a deep understanding of cultural differences can effectively navigate and resolve disputes in diverse contexts.
2. Importance of mediation and judicial support
The selection of the right mediator plays a vital role in achieving successful mediation outcomes. Mediation has gained prominence, supported by the judiciary's encouragement to consider it a preferred dispute resolution method. This trend, observed in jurisdictions like the UK, is anticipated to extend to Cyprus with the introduction of new Civil Procedure Rules aligning with the UK's framework.
3. Pre-active dispute resolution
Pre-active dispute resolution begins with contract management/administration, involving timely submission of notices and claims while abiding by contractual provisions. Safeguarding contractual rights is essential for effective dispute resolution for all parties involved.
4. Expert Witness duties
Experts, including delay experts, have a duty to the Court/Arbitrator/Adjudicator, not just to their clients. Independence, impartiality, and truthful expression of opinions understandable to laypersons are vital. Contemporaneous analysis helps accurately assess the impact of delay events, avoiding escalation into formal dispute resolution methods.
5. Effective implementation of tiered dispute resolution clauses
Tiered dispute resolution clauses offer a progressive approach to eliminate or reduce disputes referred to more expensive resolution methods. Adherence to prescribed steps and timeframes, especially when they are conditions precedent, is critical for effective implementation.
6. Expertise in construction industry for dispute resolution professionals
Dispute resolution professionals involved in construction disputes must possess a deep understanding of the industry. Arbitrators, adjudicators, and mediators without construction experience cannot effectively handle construction disputes.
7. Quick dispute resolution methods
Quick dispute resolution methods, such as statutory adjudication and an efficient enforcement system, provide the infrastructure to attract foreign investment.
8. Energy transition disputes
The rise of energy transition projects (moving away from fossil-based energy production systems) creates significant opportunities and challenges in construction disputes. Substantial investments have been made in this field ($2 trillion between 2010-2019). To achieve the goal of Net Zero by 2050, this investment must increase to $4 trillion annually by 2030. This will inevitably create a massive raft of construction projects, including installations, infrastructure, factories, and decommissioning of fossil-based plants.
Arbitrators experienced in construction disputes are well-placed to handle the emerging disputes in energy transition projects. By equipping dispute resolution professionals with the knowledge and expertise to navigate these disputes effectively, the anticipated investment to achieve Net Zero by 2050 presents a significant opportunity for the construction industry and its dispute resolution professionals.
In conclusion, the conference on Dispute Resolution in International Construction Contracts provided valuable insights into this dynamic field. Addressing cultural and language differences, selecting skilled mediators, and adopting proactive dispute resolution practices are essential for successful outcomes. Moreover, with the rise in energy transition projects, dispute resolution professionals must prepare to benefit from the anticipated investment to achieve Net Zero by 2050. Embracing efficient dispute resolution methods will foster growth and ensure a resilient future for international construction contracts.
About the author: Nicos Elia FCIArb is Chair of Ciarb Cyprus Branch and a CEDR accredited mediator. He is a UK-trained lawyer and Chartered Quantity Surveyor with over 35 years of experience in the construction industry and construction law. He excels in providing exemplary service to major stakeholders in the construction industry, offering expertise in contract drafting, claims preparation, and dispute resolution. He actively contributes to the dispute resolution field by delivering lectures and seminars. Nicos is a professional focused on excellence in construction and engineering dispute resolution.
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