Wider adoption of Dispute Resolution Advisors in public works projects

The Government would encourage wider use of a partnering approach and the Dispute Resolution Advisors (DRA) system in public works contracts, with the aim of encouraging the resolution of all differences in opinion before formal disputes arise, the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, said today (October 12).

Mrs Lam was addressing the opening of a forum organised by the Development Bureau, with the support of the Construction Industry Council (CIC), on the use of various alternative dispute resolution methods in public works projects.

Mrs Lam pointed out that based on an interim review in 2007 and an experience sharing session conducted amongst Works Departments in April 2009, the DRA system was considered helpful in minimising disputes and thus the wider use of DRA was recommended.

Having consulted Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA), the Government had decided that an addition of 15 upcoming contracts, equivalent to about 50% of all upcoming major contracts to commence between mid-2009 and early 2010, and two existing contracts, by means of supplementary agreements, would adopt DRA.

To ensure a sufficient supply of good quality DRAs to meet the possible future demand, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) would also help organise training courses for potential DRAs to promote and encourage enlisting of potential candidates.

"Once disputes arise, Government is keen to see them being resolved in a speedy manner so that justified payments to contractors can be secured in the shortest time possible.

"To support this work, I am glad that the CIC Committee on Subcontracting is about to issue a guideline on dispute resolution.  As I understand, the guideline will provide a host of different ADR methods for employers and contractors in the public and private sectors to choose from in order to cater for different scenarios where disputes may arise.  I pay tribute to the CIC for taking forward this highly worthwhile initiative," Mrs Lam said.

More than 100 participants from the CIC, HKCA, HKIAC, Association of Consulting Engineers of Hong Kong, relevant professional institutions and Government's works departments took part in today's forum to explore how best alternative dispute resolution processes can be taken forward for the benefit of Hong Kong's construction industry.

The forum also addressed the recommendations in the "Construct for Excellence" report submitted by the former Construction Industry Review Committee in 2001 on adopting a proactive approach in resolving claims and disputes.  These recommendations are among the 109 improvement measures in the report covering a wide spectrum of construction activities with a view to improving quality and ensuring cost-effectiveness in the industry.

Ends/Monday, October 12, 2009
Issued at HKT 19:21