Construction disputes management and resolution in Zambia

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Musonda, Henry Mbele
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Disputes in the construction industry are often inevitable. Disputes arise from the interpretation and application of any part of ambiguous, unplanned and conflicting contract documents. There are many methods which can be used to resolve disputes. The study in this dissertation examined the concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and its application in the Zambian construction industry. The aim of the research was to study the nature and extent of the application of ADR in the construction industry in Zambia. The study also sought to identify key issues relevant to the future development of ADR in Zambia. The research methods used in the study included preliminary interviews, questionnaire surveys and case studies. The respondent sample population involved stakeholders of the construction industry and those actively involved in ADR processes in Zambia. A detailed literature review and selected respondents of structured interviews, questionnaire surveys and case studies provided data regarding the application of ADR in Zambia. The study revealed that ADR was not widely used in the construction industry due to various inherent obstacles such as: lack of knowledge and awareness about various ADR techniques and benefits; and absence of appropriate rules and an advisory centre to guide disputing parties on the overall process. It was also established that lack of standard procedures and regulation of practitioners caused delays in proceedings, in¬equality in bargaining powers between the parties resulting in unfair settlements, and non-compliance by the parties. Although arbitration was the most frequently used method for resolving disputes, other ADR methods or techniques like mediation, adjudication, expert determination and dispute boards were perceived to be more appropriate and cost effective for the Zambian construction industry. The study identified training, regulation of practitioners, increased awareness of stake-holders, involvement of the National Council for Construction (NCC) and support and participation of the government as ways of improving ADR practice in Zambia. Research results indicated that improved access and efficiency of proceedings was crucial to the promotion and acceptance of ADR in the Zambian construction industry. Based on best practices recommended by the interview, questionnaire and case study respondents, an ADR model was developed and validated by industry stakeholders as a means of management and resolution of disputes at any stage of the construction cycle of a project in Zambia. The research findings were expected to contribute to the establishment of a framework for implementing, monitoring and regulating the application of ADR in the Zambian construction industry
Construction Industry , Construction Management