SBF becomes latest member to sign Conflict Avoidance Pledge

Leading CICV Forum member the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) has followed in other organisations’ footsteps by signing up to the Conflict Avoidance Pledge (CAP).

A joint initiative by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Institution of Civil Engineers and other major professional bodies in the built environment, the CAP aims to use early intervention techniques throughout the supply chain to try and resolve differences of opinion before they escalate into disputes.

By signing up, organisations vow to work proactively to avoid conflict, facilitate early resolution of potential disputes and promote collaborative working. In signing the Pledge, the SBF will now be encouraging its members to give serious consideration to joining the scheme.

Vaughan Hart, managing director of the SBF, said: “The uncertainty currently facing the construction sector is at its highest level for a generation and in that context the CAP is something which should be viewed as a platform upon which the continued remobilisation of the industry, as it emerges from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, could be substantially based.

“If all parties operating in the construction sector adopt the principals detailed within the CAP, there will more emphasis placed on working collaboratively through this crisis and less energy wasted on costly disputes.”

The onset of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown created significant uncertainty across the industry, with shutdowns, sickness and shielding creating issues with staffing levels, supply chain disruption, rising costs, reduced productivity and time delays.

The Cabinet Office and Infrastructure Projects Authority previously published guidance asking that parties to contracts impacted by the COVID-19 should act “responsibly and fairly, support the response to COVID-19 and protect jobs and the economy”.

In recognition of the likelihood that the effects of the crisis will lead to disputes between clients, contractors and suppliers, the NFB has now joined a string of other bodies who are actively encouraging a collaborative approach aimed at resolving issues as timely and cost effectively as possible. To do this, the CAP states:

  • We believe in collaborative working and the use of early intervention techniques throughout the supply chain, to try to resolve differences of opinion before they escalate into disputes.
  • We recognise the importance of embedding conflict avoidance mechanisms into projects with the aim of identifying, controlling and managing potential conflict, whilst preventing the need for formal, adversarial dispute resolution procedures. We commit our resources to embedding these into our projects.
  • We commit to working proactively to avoid conflict and to facilitate early resolution of potential disputes.
  • We commit to developing our capability in the early identification of potential disputes and in the use of conflict avoidance measures. We will promote the value of collaborative working to prevent issues developing into disputes.
  • We commit to work with our industry partners to identify, promote and utilise conflict avoidance mechanisms.

The new development follows the involvement of the Forum itself, which signed up to the CAP in May.

At the time, Alan Wilson, Forum Chair and Managing Director of SELECT, said: “We are delighted to sign the Pledge and add the Forum’s name to its signatories page.

“Disputes in the construction industry cost billions of pounds, causes immeasurable harm to business relationships and reputations, and are extremely slow and difficult to resolve.

“Such problems mean that projects are frequently delivered behind schedule and over budget, which adds further strain to an already stressful industry.

“By joining others to encourage collaborative working and the use of early intervention techniques, we can help the construction industry perform better when restart eventually happens.”