Mediation – a collaborative approach to dispute resolution in the South West

Constructing Excellence

Constructing Excellence South West’s Construction Mediation Guide and Protocol was launched at the Construction Summit held at Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol on 9 June. It is available online at: 

So, what is the story behind this ground breaking document? CESW seeks to improve the performance of the UK construction industry through collaborative working and it was the spirit of collaboration between a group of south west construction lawyers and the support of CESW that saw the Guide and Protocol come to fruition over the last 12 months. The project was sparked into life following an introduction by Andrew Carpenter of Jackie Gregory-Stevens to CESW member Chris Reeves.

Jackie is a chartered surveyor and head of commercial major projects round at Babcock International. Jackie had spent the last few years talking to the sector about the use of mediation and her research revealed a shockingly low level of detailed knowledge of the mediation process; many stakeholders dismissed the process as they did not know enough about it and the research revealed that if there was more knowledge then more disputes would be resolved through mediation rather than more adversarial methods such as adjudication.

Chris and Jackie presented to the CESW leadership council in September 2016 and following a vote of support the drafting team was formed with Chris to produce a CESW document: Alan Tate of Trowers and Hamlins, Chris Hoar of Michelmore and Stephen Homer of Ashfords. The Guide and Protocol was developed with the focus on addressing the lack of detailed awareness of the process.

The Guide and Protocol therefore set out:

  1. An explanation of what mediation is and its benefits.
  2. A set of guidance rules referred to as the “Protocol” for each stage of the process.
  3. Toolkit documentation including a model mediation incorporation clause (which CESW supports), a contract for the appointment of a mediator and a mediation agreement. The toolkit also included a model letter of referral – a letter that sets out a request for a dispute to be resolved by mediation.

Please take time to download and read it. The document was designed by Philip Jansseune (the designer behind the CESW Development Finance and Best Practice Guide) and printed in Bristol, adopting the colours of the rainbow as a theme.

It has won the support of many construction law firms in the south west including Osborne Clarke LLP, Clarke Willmott LLP and Foot Anstey LLPP to name just a few.

With the help of the Guide and Protocol a more collaborative approach to dispute resolution is firmly on the map in the South West with thanks to Andrew and the CESW team. CESW will be offering seminars to not only CESW clubs but other stakeholders to promote wider interest with plans to highlight the document with National CE.