6 Ways to Resolve Disputes Quickly and Avoid Litigation
Disputes in construction arise; that’s just a fact. While you may want to complain, delay a resolution or even forget about them entirely, the way in which you respond (and how quickly) makes a huge difference. Whether your greatest concern is losing a client or causing a PR nightmare or both, the following six steps can substantially reduce the fallout and impact:
1. Act fast
When problems arise, it’s important to start the resolution process sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more expensive and time-consuming conflicts become. Plus, each day that passes is more time for each party to cement their point of view and become more intractable. As soon as you recognize a problem, you should call a meeting, talk to the parties involved, review contracts for details, just do something.
2. Get to the core of the issue
Disputes in construction are often unclear at first look. At times it can seem like a “he said” “she said” ordeal. Nonetheless, construction disputes hardly arise out of nothing. Alternatively, it may seem like a cut-and-dry case of so-and-so’s fault, when really it isn’t. First, find out why there is a disagreement, then make sure both parties “agree” on at least the core issue before moving forward with a solution.
3. Get parties to listen to one another
Throughout the process, mediate to ensure both parties listen to one another so that they can take that greater understanding forward into the future. Be firm about interruptions; everyone must hear the other out. No one party should dictate a resolution; rather, everyone should get a say. This builds trust and helps to avoid a redux in future.
4. Keep conflicts on a professional level
This is admittedly hard to do sometimes, especially when issues hit at the core of professional responsibility or personal character. Still, don’t let teams get too heated. Avoid any personal issues and conflicts by always bringing it back to work. Should a member involved in the conflict bring the conversation to a personal place, ask them to move on or even step away until they cool down for a period of time.
5. Consider a compromise or collaborate to problem solve
There are two effective strategies when it comes to resolving disputes in construction: compromise and problem-solve. The first means parties give up or give in until they meet in the middle, while the second means parties work together to find an alternative solution. While there’s no one right away, determine which will bring the quickest and cleanest end to the conflict.
6. View litigation as the last resort
Make sure you know if you have a dispute resolution clause in your contract. Always follow the right process determined in your contract before doing anything rash. If you’ve looked through the contract and it seems like you have no choice but to “go there,” first check out this helpful list of dispute resolution methods.