Rics chief calls on governments to help fix construction disputes

Collaboration can stamp out the adversarial nature of construction disputes, he added

Project procurement and set up processes can help to avoid construction disputes [representational image].
Project procurement and set up processes can help to avoid construction disputes [representational image].
Sean Tompkins, global chief executive of Rics.
Sean Tompkins, global chief executive of Rics.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) is pushing for greater collaboration in the Middle East to help lower costs, deliver projects faster, and resolve protracted disputes. Sean Tompkins, global chief executive of Rics, is urging governments to find ways to stimulate collaboration in construction.

“We have a construction industry globally that is really set up to argue and fight during the process of projects, and that comes right at the point of procurement – how projects are initiated, how they are procured, and set up,” Tompkins told Construction Week. 

READ: Middle East construction disputes valued at $91m in 2017

Rics wants to encourage governments to “find ways to improve collaboration” in the industry, which could help to “improve the construction cost overall and the time it takes to deliver projects”, Tompkins said.

He added: “One thing we have been looking at, which is really important, is that when there is a dispute, how do you make sure that that isn’t just wrapped up in the courts for years? This may be halting progress, and may not be providing an important piece of infrastructure. 

“There are alternatives to how you can set these things up, [such as using] alternative conflict avoidance mechanisms. We would really argue that these type of things need to be looked at and embraced within contracts to create greater collaboration for the way forward.”

Rics is one of the oldest built environment professional institutions in the world and was formed in the UK 150 years ago. It recently launched an industry-wide consultation called Future of the Profession, which alongside stakeholders, explores how the industry should adapt to the disruptions that society will face from rampant urbanisation and technological progress. 

READ: Experts from Currie & Brown, Emaar join new RICS Saudi group

The consultation will end in October and Tompkins said he hoped it would “provide a real blueprint for the changes that need to take place in this industry”.

Meanwhile, Rics has created a working group for Saudi Arabia made up of experts from Emaar and Currie & Brown to push for recognition and greater adoption of international construction standards and regulations in the kingdom.

The seven-member body will, among other things, work with the country's government to create construction standards that are conducive to attracting foreign investment.

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020