In advance of proceedings being commenced, it is possible for approved construction professionals (incl. members of SCSI, RIAI and Engineers Ireland) to contact me directly under this scheme for advice on matters arising. If the matter becomes contentious and it is necessary to engage the services of a solicitor, I have many recommendations of solicitors with expertise in construction disputes.
Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is a term used to describe all forms of dispute resolution outside of the Courts.
The full common suite of ADR alternatives are mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication. Within this set there are hybrids such as med-arb (mediation arbitration) which are not elaborated on here as they are presently relatively uncommon in Ireland and England.
I am available to act as chairperson or represent parties in all the above forums.
I recently overheard a guide standing outside the Four Courts giving a talk to a tour, he explained that his father always said stay out of the courts if you are looking for justice, you'll get law in the courts, not justice.
While it is not entirely true that you won't get justice, it is invariably true, and often stated by the presiding judges that harsh results can result from the application of the law, and that is what you will get - law, and lots of it.
It is almost always preferable that parties resolve their differences outside of a court setting, either in negotiaton or in some form of ADR. It is in these venues that parties have the best chance of walking away without feeling entirely aggrieved and possibly maintaining business relationships.
However, sometimes parties become so entrenched in their positions, or one party refuses to be reasonable, and in these instances Court is often the best solution to the impasse.
I am available in advance of the commencement of proceedings to advise parties on the options open to them. Once proceedings are commenced or decided upon, I am available to represent parties at these proceedings.
A few years ago, at a talk on construction dispute resolution, the final question was given to an architect in the room. She didn't ask a question, instead she admonished the room for being so obsessed with disputes, and made the observation that the purpose of the construction industry is to build things, not to fight over money.
A lot of people nodded wisely in agreement with her. I looked at her and them incredulously.
The purpose of 90% of the construction industry (developers, builders, sub contractors, engineers, quantity surveyors, and most architects) is to make money, plain and simple. They are no more interested in building things than a sweet manufacturer is in feeding sweets to children. They chose the construction industry as the means to support themselves and their families.
Having settled that - the way to make money in the construction industry is to get paid as much as possible, while paying out as little as possible. There are two controlling factors in how much a party gets paid and how much they pay out. The most obvious of these being the contract they entered into and also the law governing contracts and certain other matters in Ireland. There is another very important factor that brings an element of the control into this matter, the need to build and maintain a good reputation as a fair dealer. It is the balancing of these two rights that needs to be carefully managed in a small construction industry such as exists in Ireland, this applies equally to the payer and the recipient.
Arising from the above, when disputes do arise, the claims require careful consideration before a party goes down the route of commencing ADR proceedings or litigating.
As a barrister with 17 years experience as a Quantity Surveyor before entering the legal profession, I am available to discuss the best course of action for parties to a potential dispute under a construction contract, as well as to advise them on the merits of any claim.
As part of the above I often advise parties of potential claims they may not already be aware of, leaving it up to them to collate the information in order to present such claims.