by Guest Blogger – Stephen Dickinson
At BRS, we are always focused on ensuring that our clients are gaining insights regarding current infrastructure industry challenges and opportunities. Given this, we are delighted that Stephen Dickinson of Ansr. Dispute Resolution will be providing a series of blogs that work through how our clients can benefit from understanding mediation and dispute resolution and how it can benefit their projects and organisations. You can find out more about mediation and Ansr. at ansr.com.au.
Since establishing Ansr. Dispute Resolution, it has surprised me how many people have asked, “So, what is mediation?”. This surprise stems from a misplaced assumption on my part that most people have been exposed to mediation, or at least understand what it involves, simply because it has been a part of my professional life for the best part of twenty years. I expect most of us fall into this trap, notwithstanding our profession or industry. If you had used the terms Work Breakdown Structure or Critical Path Method (or even better, WBS and CPM) during a meeting with me five years ago, I would have been reaching for a glossary of Project Management Terms (in private, of course).
So, how to explain mediation in its simplest terms, and in a 500-word blog? By using the “Five W’s”, that’s how.
The application of mediation to the infrastructure industry is compelling, whether there be a dispute regarding quality of product or service, timing of delivery or costs towards the backend of a project, a breakdown in working relationships between key individuals, teams or stakeholders on critical matters during a project or a lack of alignment on critical commercial or operational matters generally. Most major project and infrastructure contracts now include mediation and dispute resolution clauses, but rarely are they used effectively, if at all. Where mediation often reduces costs, delays and interruption to projects, and can serve to re-establish working relationships, it is a tool that could prove valuable across all industries, and perhaps your next project.
In my next blog, I will take readers through the mediation process itself, from start to finish.