Otago Polytechnic

Streamlining arbitral proceedings is important to resolve disputes more quickly and reduce the parties' costs.

In many countries arbitration is the common way to resolve disputes in the construction industry. The conduct of arbitral proceedings is governed by the parties' contract and by the law of the country which applies to that contract. In certain circumstances either party may apply to the court to challenge arbitrators' decisions although there are limited grounds on which they can do so. 

Randima Senarathna researched the effect of judicial intervention on arbitrations in the construction industry, focussing on Sri Lanka which is a common law country like New Zealand. Resolution of disputes can take longer if one party uses referral to the court as a delaying tactic.

Randima recommended that arbitrators should be empowered to do some things that the parties currently have to go to court for, for example to issue a witness summons. Arbitrators should be experienced in construction law and the construction industry, to reduce the time otherwise needed to explain the jargon and processes particular to that industry. He also suggests that the parties to an arbitration should have a professional duty to seek to resolve the dispute, and a time limit for the whole arbitration could also be helpful. Similar and additional steps might also be helpful to reduce judicial interference and delays in New Zealand construction arbitrations. 

BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

Image credit: Senator Claire MacAskill, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-ND 2.0

August 2020