The RICS conflict avoidance pledge is a scheme to hopes to get contractual disputes resolved more swiftly through collaborative working and early intervention.
The Covid-19 crisis has created potential for all kinds of contractual disputes, with temporary site closures, project cancellations, supply chain disruptions, staffing issues with sickness and domestic obligations to shield the vulnerable.
The Cabinet Office and the Infrastructure Projects Authority previously published guidance asking that parties to contracts impacted by the Covid-19 should act ‘responsibly and fairly, support the response to Covid-19 and protect jobs and the economy’.
In anticipation of disputes between clients, contractors and suppliers, the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) are encouraging a collaborative approach aimed at resolving issues quickly and cheaply.
In signing the conflict avoidance pledge, the federations are encouraging their members to use the scheme.
SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: “The uncertainty currently facing the construction sector is at its highest level for a generation and in that context the RICS conflict avoidance process is something which should be viewed as a platform upon which the continued remobilisation of the industry, as it emerges from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, could be substantially based. If all parties operating in the construction sector adopt the principals detailed within the process, there will more emphasis placed on working collaboratively through this crisis and less energy wasted on costly disputes.”
NFB chief executive Richard Beresford added: “Our members have expressed deep concerns that the industry will be tied up in knots in contractual disputes arising from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. This will undoubtedly lead to more lost time, and more lost money. If we are to keep the industry afloat and ‘build, build, build’ as the prime minister has asked, we must seek early redress and a collaborative approach to contractual disputes. That’s why we have produced our own legal briefings on maintaining contractual certainty, are holding advice webinars for members and we are now taking the RICS pledge.”
The RICS conflict avoidance pledge states:
• We believe in collaborative working and the use of early intervention techniques throughout the supply chain, to try to resolve differences of opinion before they escalate into disputes.
• We recognise the importance of embedding conflict avoidance mechanisms into projects with the aim of identifying, controlling and managing potential conflict, whilst preventing the need for formal, adversarial dispute resolution procedures. We commit our resources to embedding these into our projects.
• We commit to working proactively to avoid conflict and to facilitate early resolution of potential disputes.
• We commit to developing our capability in the early identification of potential disputes and in the use of conflict avoidance measures. We will promote the value of collaborative working to prevent issues developing into disputes.
• We commit to work with our industry partners to identify, promote and utilise conflict avoidance mechanisms.