Last edited 24 Aug 2015

Third party opinion and fixed-fee mediation procedures


[edit] Introduction

Construction contracts usually provide for disputes to be dealt with by agreed dispute resolution procedures involving mediation, adjudication and arbitration. Often a combination of all three.

On 6 November 2014, The RIBA launched two new dispute resolution schemes intended as alternatives to more formal processes:

These are fast, low-cost schemes intended for the resolution of low-level disputes that might otherwise cause delays to projects.

[edit] Third party opinion

The third party opinion procedure is intended for the resolution of technical issues or issues such as valuation. It involves the selection of an independent professional to give an opinion on the dispute and to make a recommendation for settlement. It is appropriate where the parties genuinely wish to settle the dispute and is entered into by consent, it is not part of the contract terms.

Submissions are limited to the two sides of A4 form each party with a maximum of 10 sides of supporting documents. A 5 hour time limit is applied. If a settlement is reached, the parties sign a binding agreement. The procedure may be abandoned at any time.

[edit] Fixed-fee mediation

The fixed-fee mediation procedure is intended for low-value disputes (up to £15,000) that the parties have a genuine wish to settle, and which can be resolved quickly. Mediators are selected from a list maintained by the RIBA to assist negotiations between the parties. If a settlement cannot be reached by negotiation, the mediator may suggest a settlement, but this is only binding if the parties wish it to be. If a settlement is reached, the parties sign a binding agreement. Mediation may be abandoned at any time.

The parties each set out the nature of the dispute on a single side of a A4. Mediation is conducted by telephone for no more than an hour. There can be one or two hours of preparation depending on the amount in dispute.

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