Billion-dollar arguments

In good times or bad, wherever there is a building site, there is almost certain to be an argument about payment. Very low margins, long payment chains and “risk dumping” on subcontractors are common causes, but the complexity inherent in even the simplest building projects can lead to conflict. So perhaps it’s no surprise to hear of the rise of the “mega-dispute” where the sum contested is in excess of US$1bn– the natural consequence of the rise of the global mega-project, with firms from many countries working together to deliver massive infrastructure schemes. Whether conflicts are resolved swiftly or escalate into protracted court battles is down to specialists in dispute resolution, a dynamic and evolving field – and probably the most stable job in construction. In this article for Modus, the magazine of the RICS, I investigated why construction remains such a contentious industry and whether alternative approaches to dispute resolution could help.

Author: Katie Puckett

I'm a journalist who has been writing, editing and subbing business magazines for nearly 20 years. I write regularly on all aspects of the built environment – architecture, engineering, construction, property, investment, housing, planning, economics, sustainability, climate change adaptation, technology, insurance – and I’m always up for getting to grips with new topics. I’m also co-founder of Wordmule, a company that creates bespoke editorial and marketing content about buildings and cities.