On 5 July 2018 the London Branch held its 15th annual mediation seminar on the subject of benefits, problems and alternative methods of resolution in construction disputes.
Dr Robert Gaitskell, QC
The seminar was hosted by Clyde & Co. Chaired by the London Branch Chair, Paul Rose, the speakers were Anthony Albertini, partner at Clyde & Co specialising in construction and infrastructure disputes, Ben Mellors, partner at HFW Solicitors, specialising in construction and Dr Robert Gaitskell, QC, who is both a lawyer and a chartered engineer. Between them they have experience of major projects such as the 2012 Olympic stadium, nuclear power stations, oil and gas installations, pipelines and petrochemical works in the UK and internationally.
Anthony Albertini put the case for mediation, highlighting benefits such as the consensual nature and complete flexibility of the outcome, compared with adjudication or arbitration, where a decision is imposed on the parties. Mediation offers a greater opportunity of finding a creative solution that suits both parties. It is flexible and quick and can be started at any time. The parties work together to find a solution rather than enter into an adversarial battle until one of them is the victor. The speaker’s experience of multi-party mediations, including one with over 20 parties, led him to believe the cost savings of mediation compared with other ADR methods could be considerable.
Ben Mellors put the case for adjudicator or arbitration, demonstrating that it gives the parties a clear and principled decision on the legal analysis. Adjudication has proved popular in construction disputes as it quickly unblocks difficulties which might otherwise cause significant time delays and the consequent costs. The use of dispute boards in major projects to give a quick and authoritative answer during the build has proved very successful and is widely used on infrastructure projects.
Dr Gaitskell provided an entertaining review of what worked best in different situations, peppered with war stories (or perhaps peace stories) from his international practice and international dispute resolution folklore.
Following further anecdotes from highly experienced members of the audience, a reception was generously hosted by Clyde & Co.