Mediating Construction Disputes - Saving Contractors Time and Money

Today every construction project seems to include a dispute of some kind or another.  In this highly competitive construction economy, the margin between a profitable job and a break even job (or worse) is usually thin.  Contractors are often but one protracted dispute away from real financial jeopardy.  Whether the dispute arises between a subcontractor and a prime contractor, a contractor and an owner, an owner and an architect, a supplier and a surety, or any combination of the above players, one thing is certain - the parties will have to find a way to resolve the dispute.  Given the choice, most business owners would choose a dispute resolution process which is both efficient and cost effective.

In some cases, the parties involved in the dispute have previously agreed by contract how they are to go about resolving any disputes.  There are three generally recognized ways in which parties to construction disputes may resolve their disputes: litigation, arbitration or mediation (or a combination of the three).  While all of these methods of dispute resolution have their positive attributes, mediation is by far the most cost effective manner of resolving construction disputes.

Business owners who find themselves in disputes are often times forced into costly litigation or arbitration that goes on for years while the litigation or arbitration plays out with the business owner having virtually no control over the process or the outcome; all while focus and resources are being reallocated away from obtaining new and profitable work and performing that work.

By contrast, a hallmark of mediation is that the parties to the dispute themselves have complete control as to how the dispute will ultimately be resolved.  A mediator does not have any power to, and will not, impose a resolution on the parties.  A mediator will not render any decisions as to who wins or loses.  The sole purpose and goal of an effective experienced mediator is to assist the parties, through facilitated negotiation, in reaching a resolution.  Selection of the appropriate mediator for your construction dispute is critical.  One might ask, what are the qualities of an effective mediator?  An understanding of issues unique to construction contracting, experience in representing clients in litigation, arbitration and mediation of construction disputes, as well as energy and empathy should be among them. 

Both Ted Adler and I are experienced construction litigators who not only represent clients in mediation, arbitration and litigation, but are also trained and certified mediators and arbitrators.  We have seen firsthand the benefits of resolving disputes through the use of mediation for contractors and all participants of construction projects.  Although not every case ends in settlement, the reality is that the vast majority of all cases are settled.  It is just a matter of when those cases are settled, whether early on in the process through mediation, or many months or years into litigation.  Assuming both parties and their counsel participate in the mediation in good faith there is virtually no downside to seeking a resolution of even the most difficult disputes through the help of an experienced mediator. 



Tom and Ted are ready to put their dispute resolution experience and training to work to resolve your construction dispute.  Please contact us should you have any questions about your rights with respect to mediating a construction dispute by calling (717) 763-1383 or via email at 

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Harrisburg Magazine Readers' Choice 2011