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Dispute Resolution


The best known method of dispute resolution is through taking the matter to the courts, but that can be a very long-winded and expensive way to settle an issue, so alternatives have been implemented to achieve the same ends, without the time and financial hardships (which are frequently the subject matter of construction disputes anyway, so why exacerbate them?).

The best known alternative dispute resolution method has to be arbitration, which is frequently written into construction contracts as the first formal method of resolving disputes. Here, one or more arbitrators are appointed, and the arbitrator(s) hears the issues between the parties and hands down a decision on the matter. In many ways it is like taking the matter to court, except that the manner of hearing is as agreed between the parties, and can be formal (similar to a court) or completely informal. At times it may be appropriate for both sides to simply submit written documentation on the issues to the arbitrator, without any actual hearings. The courts will almost always uphold the decision of the arbitrator if necessary.

Mediation is a dispute resolution method where a neutral party, the mediator, assists the parties in dispute to reach a resolution to the conflict. The job of the mediator is to guide the discussions, trying to meet each parties needs as far as possible, without damaging the other party's position.

Conciliation is a similar technique, but here the role of the conciliator is to seek concessions between the parties, often utilizing a form of shuttle diplomacy with the parties in dispute not actually meeting face to face.

With mediation and conciliation, the neutral party is there to help, but has no authority to impose a solution.

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