Most standard forms of contract prescribe a three tiered dispute resolution process - first mediation, then conciliation and finally arbitration. Take your average EOT claim or final account squabble, then apply all three dispute resolutions methods - I would be surprised if the whole lot were completed in under 2 years. 'Why so long?' I hear you say.
Not great if you are the party chasing payment. Certainly plenty of scope for an employer or contractor to duck and dive, while making all the noises of effort to resolve the dispute but none of the delivery.
The real forté of certain QS's from large contractors is delaying and frustrating a claim for as long as possible. Like that is what is expected or demanded of them. Some have perfected this dark art. At a recent conciliation one senior QS remonstrated his disgust at being accused of delaying the process - he even went as far as getting up to walk out of the meeting...despite the fact that it was nearly 9 months since the subcontractor initiated the conciliation.
Will Adjudication (commencing July 2016) put an end to this chicanery? 'Yes', during the adjudication which must be completed within 28 days but 'no' when it comes to the enforcement of the adjudication Decision. The bottleneck will transfer from quantity surveyors to the solicitors. That brings cost. If a subcontractor has to pay for the costs of the adjudication even if the adjudication award is made in their favour and have to front up the costs of enforcing the adjudication award in the High Court then they might well think twice about adjudication.
The amount of management time spent on dispute resolution is disproportionate to the amount of time they spend on the actual project. Adjudication will in my view certainly reduce the negative time spent by management on the dispute. At least somebody will benefit!
Phillip Crampton, Chairman of the CIF’s Procurement, Tendering and Contracts Committee said; “The Act is positive news for construction sector and will mean more certainty of payment for all in the supply chain. This certainty will improve the competitiveness of the sector facilitating growth and the delivery of quality public and private construction projects. The new legislation will also reduce the amount of management time and expense currently involved in dealing with costly disputes.