CONTRACTORS OR consultants who delay resolving construction disputes will have to pay the whole cost of adjudication hearings following changes to the ICE 7th edition contract published last week.
The changes stipulate that those involved in projects must offer to negotiate solutions to disputes as soon as they arise.
Changes to the ICE 7th edition were drafted to meet the requirements of the Housing Grants, Construction & Regeneration Act 1996. This says disputes should be allowed to go to adjudication at any point during a project and that they do not have to be referred to the engineer first.
The engineer's role had become widely perceived as too close to the client to maintain impartiality.
Clause 66 of the ICE Conditions of Contract 7th edition measurement version - which covers dispute resolution - has been updated to encourage parties to resolve contractual differences as they arise. Negotiations should now start on the production of a 'notice of dispute'.
The changes were drafted by the Conditions of Contract Standing Joint Committee (CCSJC). Its legal advisor Geoffrey Hawker said that if one party put off issuing a notice, it would be forced to bear the costs of adjudication later.
'By agreeing to use clause 66, you sign up to paying the costs, ' said Hawker.