Recent years have seen a notable increase in the number and duration of litigious disputes within the major project and infrastructure sector. This is despite alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation, being available to those involved, and the significant advantages that such processes offer.
It goes without saying that it is in the interests of disputing parties that legal proceedings be avoided given the costs, risks and uncertainty involved. This is particularly the case in the major project and infrastructure sector where delays mean money and ongoing working relationships are key.
Without trivialising the complexity of disputes in this sector, most disputes in this space fall within a handful of categories, namely:
- failure to enter or update contracts
- poorly drafted, incomplete and unclear contract terms
- failure to follow or administer contracts correctly
- failure to communicate or understand contractual obligations
- issues arising from variation management
- unsubstantiated, incomplete and late claims
- inadequate and erroneous designs, plans and approvals
The striking similarity between these issues is that they are predominantly caused by a lack of communication, understanding or cooperation between those charged with delivering on a project. Such events are inevitable in the major project and infrastructure sector, and become more likely the greater the number of people involved, and the greater the complexity of a project.
Disputes can occur at any stage of a major project, and are commonly caused by more than one event and more than one stakeholder. Disputes arising from miscommunication are human in nature and require a human response.
Why is it then that, when a dispute arises, parties resort to legal arguments and remedies rather than work together to identify and correct the cause of the dispute? This makes little sense where ongoing disputes cause interruption, delays and resulting costs to major projects, and where cooperation and collaboration between key stakeholders will more likely restore working relationships for the benefit of current and future projects.
With 20 years of experience as a commercial litigator, and more recently as an accredited mediator, this is where Stephen Dickinson can assist you and your organisation resolve disputes quickly and cost effectively, thereby allowing your project to proceed without further interruption and delay. Whether as mediator or advisor, Stephen will work with you and your team to develop a dispute resolution plan by identifying:
- the key areas of dispute;
- the underlying interests and objectives of the parties;
- the stakeholders, teams and individuals that need to be consulted or involved in the dispute resolution process;
- any information or preparatory work that may be required to enable informed discussions and decision making;
- terms of agreement and future strategies that meet the interests and objectives of the parties, and of the project; and
- what, if any, further matters need to be addressed to achieve durable outcomes and restored working relationships.
Stephen is also available to deliver seminars and workshops to key stakeholders and teams in areas such as litigation versus alternative dispute resolution, the mediation process, the advantages of mediation, conflict management, managing high conflict personalities and the implementation of dispute resolution clauses in major project and infrastructure contracts.
“I have worked with Stephen Dickinson on a range of matters over the years involving commercial negotiation through to dispute resolution and mediation. Stephen is always constructive, focused on delivering outstanding solutions and looks for win-win outcomes for all parties involved. Stephen provides timely advice that is practical and results focused. I would highly recommend Stephen and look forward to working with him in the future.”