Complex construction litigation can be very expensive and time-consuming; suing for retainage or final payment can also be expensive and postpone payments. Fortunately, several alternatives exist including arbitration and mediation, and our attorneys have the experience to represent any claim before a construction mediator or arbitrator. In fact, we regularly represent our clients, but two of our staff are also certified third-party neutrals which mean we can serve as the mediator or arbitrator for any construction or local government dispute.
Many construction contracts require arbitration or mediation, and when we draft contracts for our contractors or subcontractors, we typically include an arbitration or mediation provision as an alternative to litigation. Even if a contract does not specify that the parties must arbitrate or mediate their dispute, alternative dispute resolution can still be a very useful and efficient mechanism to resolve disputes and avoid costs and delays associated with traditional litigation. Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) gives our clients options in dispute resolution that maximize their own control and minimize the impact of an inevitable conflict. Cobb Law Group attorneys assist businesses and individuals in avoiding protracted litigation and its resulting costs and burdens.
Since the Cobb Law Group works hard to solve our clients’ problems before they occur, we regularly counsel our clients on dispute reconciliation provisions in their contracts and subcontracts. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to the various methods of contracts disputes. Needless to say, each anticipated situation is unique. For those involved in the construction industry, the speed of the dispute resolution is often more important than the costs of the solution. Critical path delays, for example, can disrupt an on-going project subjecting the owner and developer, the general contractor, and the subcontractor to potential damages ranging from costs of completion, damages for delays, and liquidated damages. Thus, the sooner a solution can be reached, the sooner the project can get back on track and the damages mitigated.
As a part of a dispute resolution contract term, parties may want to consider an escalation from informal, good-faith problem-solving which then moves to immediate mediation, and, in the event that mediation was not fruitful, the situation is submitted to arbitration. During each of the steps, there are terms which should be decided by the partied in advance. For example, the American Arbitration Association has specific rules governing construction disputes; furthermore, there are specific rules for smaller claims (usually under $1 Million in dispute). Also, parties can establish time-tables and even agree to a specific third-party neutral in advance. Having thes decisions addressed in the prime contract or subcontract can save parties time in the event of a problem.
We firmly believe that the best resolution of a dispute is one that derives from the parties’ own decisions, and we offer experience in all forms of alternative dispute resolution throughout Georgia including the following:
Through the mediation process, we assist the parties in arriving at mutually beneficial resolutions to their conflicts. Our mediation can be effective at any stage of litigation, from its initial stages to an appeal following trial. Construction mediation can foster trust and collaboration through strict confidentiality in a controlled environment. Typically, mediation is not binding; thus, when a resolution is reached, it is valuntarily agreed to between the parties. When voluntarily undertaken, mediation gives the authority back to the parties to quickly and can satisfactorily resolve disputes.
Mediation can be the least expensive method to resolve a dispute. Although an attorney must prepare for mediation, most of the evidence regarding the claim is introduced to the meditor very informally–often it is from direct testimony from our clients’ or their project managers. The other parties involved are usually in a separate room and the mediator conducting the proceeding is able to keep confidential information from the other party.
Mediation is frequently scheduled within a few days or weeks of the parties agreeing to mediate their disputes; since the resolution is ultimate voluntary, the resolution is rendered quickly and allows construction projects to move forward or require payment to be made.
Businesses and other institutions often find it helpful to retain individuals to investigate problems who are trained in conflict prevention and who can assist in the resolution of disputes before litigation arises. Acting as neutrals, our attorneys review situations for equity, fairness of process, and compliance with policy and procedure. We can then aid the business or institution by suggesting approaches to managing conflict, opening channels of communication between the institution and its employees, offering recommendations for policy changes, or acting as third-party neutrals in conflict resolution.
Construction attorney Mark Cobb and Paralegal and Georgia elected official James Eubanks are registered third-party neutrals for the State of Georgia, and they can be available to assist you in managing your dispute. As problem-solvers, they both are committed to achieving a fair, just, voluntary resolution to disputes. Mark has decades of experience representing construction professionals in all manner of disputes including mediation, arbitration, as well as litigation. James, as a sitting Mayor, brings a unique problem-solving technique to his hearings; with years of successful government service, he understands public works projects, bidding disputes, and disputes between municipalities.
When greater intervention is desired, entities often turn to arbitration to resolve disputes short of litigation. Whether binding or non-binding, arbitration offers parties the opportunity to competitively present evidence to an independent decision-maker and obtain a prompt result.
Construction arbitration is similar to litigation; however, it typically occurs more quickly and easily. The rules governing how the arbitration proceeds impacts the length and the costs of the proceeding. Frequently, there are opening arguments and then the party who moved for arbitration proceeds with their attorney leading the proceeding with witnesses and documents; then, the other side has an opportunity to present its case for the arbitrator’s consideration. Ultimately, the arbitrator renders a decision which, if binding arbitration may be enforced legally if necessary.
If you are seeking to avoid litigation in Georgia through alternative means, please contact the attorneys at the Cobb Law Group to review your ADR options and opportunities.