At last years Industry, Innovation and Insight Event, Adrian Kearney of Kearney Consult provided attendees with a heads up on the launch of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) Mediation Service for Northern Ireland’s construction industry. CEF have announced that the service is now available.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a nonbinding intervention between parties to promote resolution of a grievance, reconciliation, settlement or compromise.
Why are the Federation introducing this service?
As a form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation is a quick, inexpensive, informal and confidential means to address disputes between contractors, sub-contractors, the design team and/or employers. Given the significant volume of disputes within the industry, the CEF Mediation Service will give all contractors the opportunity to resolve these in a mutually acceptable manner where an alternative dispute resolution clause has been inserted into a commercial contract, or where one is incorporated by agreement because of a dispute occurring.
Why mediation rather than negotiation?
Negotiation can, of course, lead to the settlement of disputes. However, these can sometimes end in deadlock and be confrontational. It is the role of a panel of mediators to be independent arbiters within disputes so that the parties involved can have their grievances heard in private thus affording the parties the opportunity to build a consensus agreement between those in dispute.
The Mediation Service is without prejudice – any party can walk away from it at any time in the mediation if they are unhappy. With further agreement though, parties will still have the opportunity to return to mediation – or litigation as is their right.
But surely mediation is non-binding?
Entering into the process is voluntary, yes, and the panel does not have the ability to impose a settlement on any party. However, if an agreement can be reached, it is a legally binding contract with all parties’ signatures.
Is professional advice and/or support necessary?
No – but that doesn’t preclude any party from obtaining it if it so wishes.
Does the service include disputes between Government Clients and contractors?
No, a separate dispute resolution mechanism is being developed for use in disputes between Government Clients and contractors. The CEF Mediation Service is purely for disputes between construction companies, their sub-contractors, design team and employers.
Do I need to be a member of the Construction Employers Federation to avail of the Mediation Service?
No, the Mediation Service is open to all construction companies, their sub-contractors, design team and/or employers.
For detailed information on how companies can refer a dispute and prepare for the mediation as well as the mediation process and our mediation panel, please see these links: