“Mediation of Construction Disputes” by David Richbell

This book is written for users of mediation, whether they are a party, an advisor or an expert. It should also be of help to commercial mediators who have no specialism in construction.

Its aim is to encourage confidence in the mediation process and to ensure that those who do use mediation to resolve their disputes do so effectively, and so are able to maximise the opportunities that mediation offers.

The first three chapters make the case for mediation in an industry that is traditionally adversarial. Then the book looks at the mediation process itself and the roles played by those involved.

The third, and most important, section looks at how to use the process to best advantage, and at the variations of the mediation process that are available. The book features checklist summaries, samples of standard forms and a summary of relevant law.

As the construction industry turns increasingly to mediation to settle its disputes, this book, from a very experienced mediator, will be a valuable aid to the process.

Note from the author: "This is my attempt to deliver to the industry that I love a book that will help restore common sense to its disagreements and so allow it to become an even more human and respected industry that the one that I left."

Readers Comments: "A digestable feast of wisdom"; “A short note to thank you for writing 'Mediation is the only way to Justice'. After spending the past year reading what feels like a library of books.., I thoroughly appreciate your direct yet open writing style.”

Review:

This book is written by someone who loves the construction industry and who is saddened by the time and cost wastage expended in managing disputes as opposed to spending that time and cost in wealth generation. The author believes in mediation. This book is aimed at users of mediation, whether they be parties, advisors or experts with the underlying reason to encourage confidence in the mediation process. The process, it is argued, has consequential benefits to dispute resolvers. Prospective readers should look elsewhere for training in the core skills and techniques of mediation but should come back to this book as a follow up.

The book takes us through three sections divided across 11 Chapters, each Chapter with a very helpful “in a nutshell” table at the end of each chapter summarising what the chapter has covered.

The first three chapters begin by setting out how disputes can grow whether from legal, commercial, cultural or personality differences to how they can be resolved (by various means) before presenting a very solid case for mediation. The second section takes the reader through preparing, presenting, negotiating and concluding the mediation. The second section also indicates, in a very clear way, the role each party to the process plays. Before coming to some useful appendices, the final section takes the reader briefly back a step to highlight how disputes can be avoided. The book is then brought to a close by mapping out the mediation landscape and then, perhaps most importantly, setting out that if the process is used effectively how everyone can win.

The book serves as a good readable introduction to mediation by someone who has the industry in his blood. David Richbell’s love for the industry shows clearly throughout, and if this reviewer dare use an analogy, much like a father wanting his young children to stop arguing and make the most of their time together. It is to be hoped his message about the benefits of mediation succeeds. In any event, this book is a good read for those people who wish to resolve their disputes amicably and a must read for those who still prefer to fight it out to the bitter end.

Wayne Lord CEng MICE MIStructE Barrister
Lecturer of Construction Law
Department of Civil and Building Engineering
Loughborough University