A party to a contract facing claim/response preparation or a dispute, where the outcome potentially threatens the success (or even the existence) of its business, has a clear requirement for reliable advice and expertise in dealing with and resolving the matter to its best advantage.
Larger companies (both employers and contractors) which undertake many concurrent contracts have historically carried in-house permanent expertise in this area - often widely experienced engineers or surveyors well into their careers who, after working on sites and contract management for many years, have chosen to specialise in claims and disputes.
The experience and expertise which such people can bring to bear in researching and assessing the merits of a party's case are considerable and their advice is often invaluable. Based upon this advice decisions may be more confidently taken on how to proceed. Their input into the preparation of the case and any subsequent negotiations is equally invaluable.
It is rare for smaller and medium sized companies to carry such expertise, and they must seek assistance from external consulting companies. Success or otherwise is very much dependent upon the quality of the personnel supplied. Consequently, it is more difficult for smaller companies to be sure that the level of expertise brought to bear on their cases will be adequate.
The problem has been further compounded over the last twenty years by the trend for companies to use sub-contractors rather than in-house resources to carry out the majority of the site work required under a contract. This has resulted in there being available ever fewer qualified engineers and surveyors with the optimum attributes of:
(i) hands-on experience of organising and costing actual labour and plant resources on site, AND
(ii) claim/response/dispute experience and expertise.
It is this fundamental experience in 'organising and costing' and the skills which flow from it, which make the input from such personnel so valuable when compared to that given by the 'trained' contract consultants provided by so many consulting companies.
It is a sad fact that many engineers and surveyors with such attributes are now generally close to or approaching retirement and they are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
In the light of the above there is a real need for these experienced engineers and surveyors to be retained in the industry for as long as possible. Furthermore, it would be of great advantage for the future if these professionals were able to pass on their knowledge and, more especially, their approach, to younger members of parties' staff by "on-the-job collaboration" during parties' claim, response and dispute work.
In this way a party facing claim/response preparation or a dispute, in addition to employing the optimum resources to deal with the matter (i.e. the experience and expertise of senior members of the professions), may use the opportunity which the matter presents to give its younger members the best possible training in claim/response/dispute work.
The same experience and expertise may also be harnessed by companies who desire it in assisting them to put in place or improve Project Control processes aimed at reducing the incidence of claims and disputes and contributing to success if a dispute is unavoidable.
BASING CONTRACT CONSULTANTS
2, Burtons Gardens, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7AF
Tel : 01256 354628
Mob : 07775 938387
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