Fast-Track International Construction Arbitrations

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Introduction -

Perceptions that the arbitral process takes too long and costs too much are at the top of concerns about commercial arbitration generally, including international construction arbitration. A sobering example in the United States occurred in 2007 when the American Institute of Architects dropped arbitration as the “default” process for ultimately resolving construction disputes in their suite of contract forms. Over the past 10 to 15 years construction industry concerns about time and cost have prompted legislatures and industry organizations, including the legal profession, to develop faster, more efficient, and generally cheaper adjudication processes for deciding construction disputes. The procedures which have had the most success in reducing the time and cost of construction adjudication have been the accelerated or “fast-track” procedures which are designed to significantly reduce the time from the initiation of the dispute resolution process to a binding determination, whether that determination is final or for an interim time. The progenitor for modern accelerated construction arbitration, and the process that has had the most profound impact on traditional construction dispute resolution, was Statutory Adjudication, which was enacted in the United Kingdom in the mid-90s and took effect on May 1, 1998.5 While adjudication differs from arbitration in several respects, this paper will briefly examine the Statutory Adjudication procedures as applicable to construction disputes in England and then review a sampling of “fast-track” or accelerated arbitration rules and procedures that are published by various construction industry organizations and arbitral institutions.

Originally published in Contemporary Issues in International Arbitration and Mediation: The Fordham Papers 2012.

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