Four Senior Accredited Specialists in Building and Construction Law came together on 8 May 2018 to share their experiences in managing construction disputes and explore best practices.
Chaired by Mr Mohan Pillay, the seminar started off with a discussion by Mr Edwin Lee about the importance of Scott and Redfern Schedules in facilitating efficient organisation of information in large, complex construction disputes, which often involve voluminous sets of information and documents.
Mr Ho Chien Mien then spoke about experts – a common feature in most construction disputes – and how to use them efficiently in legal proceedings. This included issues ranging from the choice of experts, to how best to present expert evidence particularly in the context of “hot-tubbing” during proceedings.
To close off the presentations, Mr Eugene Tan gave insights into the workings of Dispute Boards, an alternative dispute resolution forum aimed at preventing or resolving disputes on major infrastructure projects, and analysed whether they are relevant and useful in the current industry.
The subsequent question-and-answer session was lively and thought-provoking. Members of the audience shared their views on, among other things, the importance of key qualities of experts such as impartiality and reliability. Those who have served as Dispute Board members, commented on the growing usage of Dispute Boards and how owners and contractors tend to accept their decisions with less scepticism, thus minimising the odds of disputes escalating into full-blown arbitrations. But for time constraints, the session would have stretched even longer into the night – although it did not deter the audience from approaching the panellists for further discussions at the closing refreshments thereafter.
In view of the new Infrastructure Office announced by Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Kiat at his 2018 Budget Statement, one would expect a greater number of, and more complex, infrastructure projects coming up. Undoubtedly, disputes will arise. This seminar is thus timely, in addressing the common and pressing issues arising from such disputes and how best to manage them.
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Ang Wee Jian – MPillay