The average length and value of UK construction disputes are the lowest in the world, but collaboration is often overlooked when it comes to avoiding, mitigating and even resolving problems. As the industry recovers from COVID-19 there will be an overwhelming number of decisions that need to be made to successfully start and complete projects, so what can we do to collaborate to achieve project excellence in a post-pandemic world?
This year’s report reveals that the average value and length of disputes in the UK remains significantly lower than the global average, with resolution time down 23% on the year prior.
Consistent with previous years, not complying with contractual obligations, on the part of both those administering and undertaking the works, continues to be a primary cause of disputes. A ‘lack of understanding of procedural aspects of the contract’ was one of the most commonly cited reasons for problems emerging, with over 60% of respondents stating that proper contract administration would have the single largest impact in avoiding disputes.
However, there are signs that things are changing. Major stakeholders, including contractors, have indicated a desire to work together through signing up to the industry Conflict Avoidance Pledge (CAP), which is encouraging all organisations to consider their working practices and the way they deal with disputes.
Gary Kitt, Head of UK Contract Solutions at Arcadis, commented:
“The construction industry has been grappling for decades with solutions to its adversarial nature and inherently risk-averse attitude. Yet now more than ever the entire supply chain – from employers right through to sub-contractors and suppliers – needs to work together to keep projects moving and prevent disputes from arising.
“The downward trend in terms of both value and length of disputes has been encouraging, but the more important concern is how we maintain this in a post-pandemic environment. One solution would be to make the administration of contracts easier for everyone involved. This calls for industry-wide collaboration not only in terms of who is represented on drafting bodies to make sure that everyone on the project understands the consequences of their actions, but also by using more collaborative forms of contract that will help to inspire longer term confidence in delivery.”
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