Disputes in the construction and engineering sector are increasing in number, and the cost to the industry and wider economy is immense. The financial cost of disputes in the UK construction industry is measured in billions of pounds, and the damage they cause is not just financial.

Abritration handshake

Disputes also cause immeasurable harm to business relationships and brand reputations, as well as being painfully slow to resolve. It can take an inordinately long time to resolve a dispute through traditional means, such as arbitration and litigation. As a result, when issues occur, projects are often delivered behind schedule, over budget, and quality is often undermined.

Many contracting parties are now focusing on encouraging collaborative working, and the use of early intervention techniques to try and resolve differences of opinion before they escalate into full blown disputes. An increasing number of major infrastructure bodies are now using embedded Conflict Avoidance mechanisms to control and manage potential conflict and prevent the need for formal dispute resolution procedures, such as arbitration or litigation.

Why work with us?

RICS Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) is the world's oldest and largest provider of alternative dispute resolution services to the property and construction industries. We have 40 years’ experience of identifying and engaging with the highly skilled RICS members and other professionals who make up the President’s Panel, from which dispute resolvers are selected.

We use our expert knowledge and experience, gained over four decades, to work with governments, judiciaries, major infrastructure contractors and other clients in the built environment sector to develop new Conflict Avoidance and Dispute Resolution services designed to meet their specific needs.

Conflict Avoidance Consultancy

DRS has developed its consultancy service, working closely with our clients to create innovative Conflict Avoidance and Dispute Resolution (CA & DR) systems in new areas such as planning and infrastructure across the globe.

We offer:

  • An unparalleled ability, based on decades of experience, to be able to sit down with clients and contractors and understand their needs
  • The expertise to work collaboratively with clients and contractors to develop a system designed specifically to meet their needs
  • Four decades of experience in identifying, engaging with and managing highly skilled panel members
  • Embedded impartiality as an independent third party in managing the Conflict Avoidance and Dispute Resolution process
  • A commitment to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity, supported by strict regulation, quality assurance procedures and complaints handling.
  • Well-established and effective processes for ensuring that the most suitable person is appointed. We check that they are available, competent, free from conflicts, have transparent and reasonable fees and adhere to our Customer Charter.

The DRS Consultancy Approach

We work with our clients on a collaborative, three stage basis:

  1. We gain a detailed understanding of our client’s needs and wants
  2. We use our knowledge and expertise to propose how these could be met
  3. Working with our client, we test these proposals against the reality of their business environment

Once these three stages are completed, we form a unique service tailored to the needs of the client and their business.

Examples of tailored products

Using this approach we have developed bespoke conflict avoidance systems for our clients, including:

Neighbourhood Planning Independent Examiner Referral Service (NPIERS)

DRS worked in collaboration with the Planning Officers Society (POS), Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and Locality with support from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

NPIERS is a cost-effective service which supports the neighbourhood planning process by providing quick and easy access to impartial and highly qualified examiners on an ‘as needed’ basis. DRS manages and maintains the panel of NPIERS examiners and administers the selection and appointment of panel members on request. 

Conflict Avoidance Process (CAP)

DRS worked with TfL and its major project delivery partners to develop and implement a ground-breaking conflict avoidance and early intervention which could be incorporated into standard engineering contracts used for the upgrading works on the London Underground. The DRS team reviewed a clause drafted by TfL and recommended adjustments to the process designed to make it practicable, impartial and acceptable to all parties.

Using the skills and expertise of the team and the RICS Dispute Resolution Working Party, DRS developed information and guidance for CAP users and practitioners, and the administrative processes which would enable Parties to apply for the appointment of a CAP Panel as and when needed.

The introduction of CAP helps TfL and its contractors to identify problem areas early, allowing quick and effective action to deal with them. Using CAP ensures that all parties are focused on dealing with problem issues and communicating in structured conversations without placing blame. This creates a collaborative environment where all parties work together to seek solutions to problems.

To date, Transport for London has written their Conflict Avoidance Process procedure into £7 billion worth of contracts and the CAP procedure was used successfully on 11 matters in the first year, where differences of opinion between TfL and contractors could otherwise have ended up in arbitration or litigation. This has kept disputes worth £650 million away from the courts.

DRS-ResoLex Collaboration

DRS has worked in partnership with ResoLex to pioneer a new service designed to minimise the likelihood of disputes on major infrastructure projects and property development projects. This service allows projects to proactively manage risk from the outset, ensuring multiple layers and safeguards are in operation to identify and resolve potential disputes early.

DRS and ResoLex offer complementary services to clients wishing to avoid costly and disruptive disputes on projects. RICS offers services which help to resolve conflict situations, when they arise, early in the hope of preventing escalation. ResoLex has developed RADAR, a project horizon scanning service which bridges the gap between forensic data and stakeholder perceptions, and completes the project communications feedback loop.

It provides an early warning system which picks up issues that need attention and allows them to be addressed before they damage the project.

If issues cannot be resolved by the project team at this stage, they can ask DRS to appoint an expert to independently assess and make non-binding recommendations to resolve the issue. The aim is to ensure that minor issues and disagreements are resolved amicably do not escalate into full blown disputes.

The CAP process is flexible and draws on a range of established ADR methods to help resolve issues early and quickly, and may use one or more resolution techniques depending on the issues. The expert will deliver fully reasoned, non-binding, independent recommendations for settlement and resolution.

The use of the combined service on complex projects aims to drastically reduce the risk and associated costs of disputes on projects, and the negative impact these have on commercial relationships and brand reputations.

Get in Touch

if you are interested to learn more about DRS Conflict Avoidance Consulancy and would like to speak to a member of the team, please fill out the form below.

Please tick the box if you wish to receive communications from RICS with further information on other DRS services*


Read the next page in this section