Compared with many sectors, construction is in a relatively fortunate position, having always been amongst the most progressive areas in terms of embracing new procedures and methods of dispute resolution.
Now more than ever, the emphasis should be on negotiating, but (where necessary) doing so from a clear position of strength having regard to the formal procedures available if a deal cannot be done.
The various methods of modern dispute resolution mean that most matters should be able to be steered to a swift commercial settlement. Where more formal processes are required, adjudication and the Technology & Construction Court are well placed to adapt to, and indeed embrace, the constraints of social distancing.
Various successful adaptations have been made, including:
- Virtual mediations are becoming common place, and hopefully this will continue into the future, allowing mediations to be quicker, more cost effective and flexible;
- Adjudications are usually conducted on paper only, and there is very good scope for those that do require a short hearing for it to take place virtually.
- The Technology & Construction Court quickly put in place a protocol to allow adjudication enforcement proceedings to take place remotely, and more and more of their hearings are taking place remotely, with the first full remote trial having now taken place.