Disputes can often arise in relation to construction and engineering projects and lead to claims being made by the parties involved. The cost and time involved in pursuing a remedy through the courts means that, increasingly, alternative methods of dispute resolution are being sought.

Arbitration is an alternative to court proceedings but requires the parties to agree to arbitrate in the event of a dispute at the time they enter into their contract. The process involves the referral of the dispute to a qualified and independent third party arbitrator who will consider the issues based on the relevant facts, documents and principles of law, very much like a judge in court proceedings. However, the arbitrator will usually have expertise in the subject matter of the dispute.

The process is entirely confidential and is governed by the Arbitration Act 1996. The parties can also choose industry recognised rules to govern the procedure. This can make it a flexible and costeffective way of resolving disputes.

Arbitrator’s decisions are usually final, binding and enforceable through the court. They are not subject to appeal. However, an award can be challenged in certain limited circumstances, such as if the arbitrator has applied the law incorrectly or there has been serious procedural irregularity.