Competitive bidding environments, cash flow constraints and global mega-projects ensure a high level of construction disputes. Whilst a diverse range of issues have come to the fore in different jurisdictions, general trends reflect the continuing pressure from parties for more efficient and cost effective dispute resolution procedures: there has been a general movement in favour of statutory security of payment regimes continue to find favour in common law jurisdictions; international commercial courts are gaining ground; and increasing competition between arbitral institutions has resulted in amendments to rules which focus on expedited processes. At the same time, shifts in global economics combined with arbitration-friendly legal reforms are driving further diversification in arbitral seats as governments and national companies increasingly challenge the default selection of the traditional European options. Although parties are embracing collaborative working methods in theory, changes in practice have been limited so far to increased interest in the NEC (New Engineering & Construction) family of contracts and a small number of long-term alliances. Whether these will deliver cooperative win-win relationships and better value remains to be seen. What is clear is that parties are more interested in implementing risk management procedures and more willing to participate in ADR, particularly mediation.

Given the vast number of overseas infrastructure projects that Chinese contractors have undertaken and invested in, this trend is partly driven by positive experiences on major government funded projects in China such as the Shanxi Wanjiazhai Yellow River Diversion project and the new Beijing International Airport. Other factors include: positive experiences on other major projects; the high success rates reported by ADR service providers; the promotion of ADR in legislation and standard form contracts such as the pre-action protocols in England, the new Danish standard contract AB 18, the recent revisions of the Norwegian standard forms of contract for offshore construction, and the new FIDIC Yellow Book and Silver Book contract forms; the development of major projects in jurisdictions such as Nigeria and Uganda where some form of mediation or conciliation procedure is mandatory in civil litigation processes and therefore well understood; the lengthy time, high cost, inflexibility and risks associated with formal proceedings; and the difficult economic conditions faced by many contractors.

As mediation gains popularity at the expense of more formal proceedings there are hints parties will seek a more evaluative approach, as has already been seen in the US. However, it is too early to confirm whether this will emerge as a trend in international construction disputes and whether mediators will be prepared to accede to such requests without requiring procedural changes that result in the mediation becoming akin to adjudication.

Job opportunities in construction-related QS and commercial services include:

  • Quantity Surveyors
  • Claims Engineers / Managers
  • Contracts Managers
  • FIDIC Experts
  • Commercial Managers
  • Procurement Managers
  • Project Controls Managers
  • Planning Managers
  • Scheduling Managers
  • Administrative Support

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