The use of mediation and other collaborative methods early on in a construction or environmental-related conflict situation can save significant amounts of time and costs, as well as preserving relationships.
The challenges of “conflicts” in building and preserving our environment: In undertaking any construction project, or any significant change in land use or any environmental remediation, there is a high potential for conflicts. Contracting parties, affected communities, political bodies, neighbors and a wide variety of other stakeholders can be involved. But by their nature these conflicts are often highly technical, involving high costs and often emotionally charged. The primary objective should be to resolve these disputes in a cost effective and timely manner, while maximizing the interests of most, if not all, of the stakeholders in the matter.
Collaboration and mediation can optimize the process and solutions: Mediation is the use of a neutral third party to manage a collaborative problem solving process by and for the parties to the conflict. In mediation the participants retain total control of the outcome which can include an limited numer of choices to meet their combined terms. If the neutral has a technical and a legal background, the costs of education and briefing the neutral are minimal. The parties and neutral can quickly focus their energy on finding innovative and creative solutions, which is not possible with a third party decision-maker.
Avoid the adversarial path to “resolution”, which is narrow, long, and expensive: When adversarial approaches are applied to these conflicts, such as litigation, arbitration, or an administrative agency, a third party is given total control to decide the outcome. Time to get to that outcome is commonly counted is years. The parties are forced to spend tremendous amounts of resources in an effort to educate and influence that third party decision-maker, so he or she will favor their position over their opponents. FRequently relationships are irrepairably harmed. It is a win-lose proposition. Studies have shown that 95% of civil lawsuits will settle before trial. Yet these settlements occur after most of the costs, time and damage to relationships in the process have already occurred.
CHRIS KANE, P.E., J.D. is an experienced engineer, lawyer and neutral who maintains a limited practice outside of his corporate position in mediation and collaborative conflict resolution (CCR) services for business, environmental, engineering and construction matters. In his neutral work, Chris has helped save project participants significant amounts in legal and technical costs as well as months if not years in time in resolving disputes. In many cases his mediated settlements have been instrumental in preserving business and neighbor relationships. He specializes in technical, environmental, financial and contract disputes, where he requires very little learning curve to get up to speed.