DRBF in Singapore

WIN_20140517_080053I have just got back to Australia following another excellent conference of the Dispute Review Board Foundation, this time in Singapore.

After a somewhat slow start, compared to the United States, review boards (or Dispute Avoidance Boards as they are often now known here) are picking up fast in Australia. So far, it seems, there have been boards set up on some 57 projects and, so far, every one has succeeded in avoiding any disputes getting as far as litigation, arbitration or adjudication. That is a remarkable record, which surely cannot last for ever, but which speaks very well of the system.

One of the more interesting papers was by Ann McGough, the General Manager of the DRBF, who presented statistics on the review board record. In the USA, the big change in recent years seems to be a dramatic increase in the use of review boards on relatively small projects, of just $10 million or $20 million, particularly in the road sector. Internationally, the use of boards is generally restricted to head contracts of relatively large projects – $100 million or so and up – and it will be interesting to see if this US trend will spread.

I have always enjoyed advocacy, and my recent move to bar provides a welcome opportunity to do more of it.  Less welcome is the inevitable focus at the bar on trials as a way of dealing with disputes, and my instinct remains that disputes are much better managed before they have led the parties into often absurd levels of legal cost. Conferences like this are a great way of catching up with like-minded friends from around the world.

3 thoughts on “DRBF in Singapore

  1. Dear Robert
    Good to read this post. I couldn’t be in Singapore because of commitments with the CIArb in London but am pleased it went well. I am a great supporter of DRBs and DABs and am glad that they now have some traction in Australia. I learnt from presentations by Doug Jones last year that there had been some success in using DABs on major projects in Australia and these numbers are encouraging. I am doing DAB work in Europe and Africa at present and finding it fulfilling.

    Hope all is well with you and the bar is suiting you – it sounds as if it is!

    Best regards

  2. Following Ms Simpson’s comment, it is also a mystery to me why here in the Middle East it is avoided; especially when the ‘Majlis’ culture is similar in resolving disputes for local issues.

    I do know there is a perception that such disputes in construction should not be washed as ‘dirty linen’ in public but this may e changing as now there are parties one might not have expected going to Arbitration. As some have found that an expensive and lon-drawn out issue, the tide may turn towards DRB related set-ups.


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