Dispute avoidance

Describe the role of the contract administrator in avoiding and settling disputes between the parties under the NEC3 ECC and the JCT Standard Building contract

I will answer here your question from the perspective under the NEC3 ECC contract. Under this contract it is the role of the Project Manager who acts on behalf of the Employer and makes all of the key decisions. Their role is pivotal in avoiding and settling disputes and they should act impartially in accordance with the contract. There is also a requirement for them to act “in a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation” which if nothing else is a useful reminder how the Parties should be working. If they assess a compensation event in accordance with the contract correctly, then whilst the Contractor may still not like the answer there would be nothing to go to a formal dispute process (adjudication) for. If the Project Manager is responding to communications, accepting or rejecting things when they should and making the relevant assessments when the contract requires then there should be very few disputes left to have. Those that do remain there is the option for the Contractor to go to adjudication, but again if the Project Manager has acted in accordance with the contract then this should not be necessary as the Contractor would lose.

The key processes for the Project Manager to keep on top of in order to try to avoid disputes would be managing the early warning/Risk Register process, making sur e there is a regular revised Accepted Programme and keeping on top of compensation events to ensure they are closed (implemented) as soon as possible so both Parties understand where they are in terms of their respective liabilities.