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What is Arbitration in Construction Contracts? A Comprehensive Guide

In the construction industry, disputes are not uncommon. When conflicts arise between parties involved in a construction project, arbitration can be a valuable alternative to litigation. This article aims to provide a clear understanding of what arbitration in construction contracts entails and its benefits. Whether you are a contractor, subcontractor, owner, or any party involved in construction, this guide will help you navigate the arbitration process effectively.

I. Understanding Arbitration in Construction Contracts

  • Definition of arbitration in the context of construction contracts
  • Key differences between arbitration and litigation
  • The role of arbitration in resolving construction disputes

II. Benefits of Arbitration in Construction Contracts

  1. Efficiency and Speed
  • Streamlined process compared to traditional litigation
  • Faster resolution of disputes, saving time and money
  • Flexibility in scheduling hearings and choosing arbitrators
  1. Expertise of Arbitrators
  • Selection of arbitrators with specialized knowledge in construction disputes
  • Professional expertise ensures a fair and informed decision-making process
  • Avoidance of potential biases associated with jury trials
  1. Confidentiality and Privacy
  • Confidentiality of proceedings, maintaining business reputation
  • Protection of sensitive project details and trade secrets
  • Avoidance of public exposure

Arbitration is when disputing parties submit their differences to a neutral third party professional who makes a final award for financial damages, if any. Many disputes between consumers and contractors can be resolved efficiently and in a timely manner through arbitration.

Should I agree to arbitration in a construction contract?

While you may prefer not to consider how a dispute should be resolved prior to its commencement, the time to do so is when you enter into your construction contract. For years arbitration has been considered by many to be a fast and relatively inexpensive forum for resolving construction disputes.

What does arbitration mean in a contract?

Arbitration is a procedure in which a dispute is submitted, by agreement of the parties, to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the dispute. In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court.

Why is arbitration used in construction contracts instead of mediation?

Your contract should state BINDING arbitration; you want the issue resolved and finished, the sooner the better. Arbitration, structured properly, usually gets issues resolved much faster than mediation, and often at far less cost.

What are the disadvantages of arbitration in construction?

Cons: Arbitration can be more expensive and time-consuming than litigation, especially if the parties choose a complex and formal procedure, involve multiple arbitrators, or face multiple challenges or appeals.

How long does arbitration take on average?

About seven months

American Bar Association research suggests that average arbitration cases take about seven months, while average litigation can take from 23 – 30 months depending on the court schedule.

What is the timescale for arbitration?

You can usually expect to hear the arbitrator's decision within 45 days of the arbitrator closing the proceedings. However, this timescale is usually set by agreement between you, the other party and the arbitrator.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I speed up my arbitration process?

Present your claims in the clearest possible manner, with an eye towards demonstrating how the particular facts of your situation warrant relief. Focus on the key issues in dispute. Generalized pleas for fairness or equity are less likely to resonate with the arbitrator.

How does binding arbitration work?

Binding arbitration means that the parties waive their right to a trial and agree to accept the arbitrator's decision as final. Generally, there is no right to appeal an arbitrator's decision. Non-binding arbitration means that the parties are free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator's decision.

Is it easy to win arbitration?

Arbitration results are pretty much the same: In a single given case, who knows what the outcome might be, but over a thousand cases you're probably going to win about half and lose about half, and the only thing that you really care about is getting those cases over quickly so that your legal fees are as low as

How do you beat an arbitration clause?

If the contract doesn't provide a way to opt out of the arbitration agreement, then tell the other party you don't want to agree to the arbitration clause. Ask them if they will allow you to sign the contract without the arbitration clause.

How do you become an arbitrator in the US?

While anyone can become an arbitrator, there are a few requirements and steps that you need to follow to get hired:
  1. Get a bachelor's degree.
  2. Pursue an advanced degree.
  3. Gain work experience and training.
  4. Complete licensing and certification.

What are the qualifications for an arbitrator?

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are usually lawyers or business professionals with expertise in a particular field. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators typically need at least a bachelor's degree at the entry level. They learn their skills through a combination of education, training, and work experience.

How do you get selected as an arbitrator?

If the parties have not appointed any arbitrator(s) and have not provided another method of appointment, then generally the case manager submits a list of potential arbitrators to the parties, who then may strike any names and rank the remaining in order of preference.


What is an arbitrator in construction?

Many of these construction disputes are resolved through arbitration, which is a process by which the parties in dispute, instead of going to court to resolve the matter, agree to submit their case to a third-party neutral, known as the arbitrator, who acts as a judge and jury.

How do arbitrators get paid?
Parties submit arbitrator compensation to the AAA ahead of time so that the arbitrator is paid for all work she or he does on the case. The AAA then sends the compensation to the arbitrator. If the case ends before all the money is used, the AAA refunds it to the parties who paid it.

Which are the three most common areas for construction disputes?
Types of construction disputes
  • Confusion over scope of work. The subcontractor doesn't understand the extent of the work they're bidding on.
  • Changes to original scope of work. Most projects evolve as they progress, and may require scope changes.
  • Site conditions.
  • Trade disputes.
What are the two major causes of legal disputes in construction contracts?
The Most Common Causes of Construction Litigation
  • Nonpayment: When general or trade contractors complete a project and the owner does not provide the agreed-upon compensation, contractors can sue for nonpayment.
  • Failure to Meet Contractual Terms: Like with all contracts, the devil is in the details.
What is the most common way to resolve dispute in construction projects?

Disputes on construction projects cannot be avoided, but arbitration and legal proceedings can be, with a little diligence, creativity, and sound judgement. Negotiation is by far the best way to resolve a dispute. It is cost effective and, importantly, it gives parties control over the outcome.

How are most US government construction contract disputes initially handled?

All disputes under the CDA must be submitted to either the U.S Court of Federal Claims or to an administrative board of contract appeals. The vast majority of board cases are handled by either the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals or the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals.

What is arbitration in construction contracts

What are the typical construction disputes?

Generally, misunderstandings, violations of construction contracts, project delays, changes in work scope, design changes or faulty design, and payment issues are the reasons for the disputes. Furthermore, breach of contract is another major reason for construction disputes.

How long does arbitration usually take?

American Bar Association research suggests that average arbitration cases take about seven months, while average litigation can take from 23 – 30 months depending on the court schedule.

How long does labor arbitration take?

Most employment disputes are resolved between 120-180 days. The average length for all arbitration matters through the AAA is about 4.5 months. When do I present my evidence and what kind of evidence will be allowed? At the evidentiary hearing, you will be given an opportunity to present your evidence.

How many days for arbitration?

90 days

A party has 90 days within which to refer that dispute to arbitration from the earlier of the date on which conciliation remains unresolved, or the 30-day conciliation period has expired.

What are my chances of winning arbitration?

Arbitration results are pretty much the same: In a single given case, who knows what the outcome might be, but over a thousand cases you're probably going to win about half and lose about half, and the only thing that you really care about is getting those cases over quickly so that your legal fees are as low as

How long does the arbitration process take?

The arbitration process can take anywhere from a few days to several months depending on the complexity of the dispute. The arbitration process is typically faster than going through litigation in court, as arbitration does not require multiple hearings and rulings from a judge.

  • What is the timeline for arbitration?
    • An arbitration proceeding must be completed within 12 months (and an additional six months if mutually agreed by the parties) from the date on which the statement of claim and the statement of defence are filed in an arbitration.

  • What is the typical cost of arbitration?
    • Arbitrators are paid for their time to preside over the matter by the day or hour. The least expensive arbitrators usually charge $150 an hour, while the most expensive might charge $400-$500 an hour or more depending on their area of expertise.

  • Who pays the cost for arbitration?
    • At the beginning of each arbitration, the arbitral institution administering the proceedings typically fixes an advance on cost (also called a “deposit”) to be paid in equal shares by the parties (although, in exceptional circumstances, a separate advance on costs can also be set).

  • How much does AAA arbitrator cost?
    • The AAA rules also require businesses to pay a $1,400 case management fee prior to the appointment of an arbitrator, a minimum $2,500 arbitrator fee, half of which is payable once a preliminary management conference is held, and a $500 hearing fee.

  • Is arbitration really cheaper?
    • Arbitration is usually less costly than litigation. Because cases heard by an arbitrator tend to be resolved more quickly than those heard by a jury, parties pay far less in attorneys' fees and avoid other costs associated with preparing for trial, such as document filing, discovery, and expert witness fees.

  • Is arbitration more expensive than a trial?
    • Arbitration can be faster, more efficient, and cheaper than court litigation and trial. As in court litigation, the parties can demand documents and information from each other through a discovery process, but it is expedited and limited.

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