Dispute Resolution Boards have been adopted on many major projects overseas particularly in USA and Europe, particularly under FIDIC contracts, and have been adopted on several major projects in New Zealand.
A DRB is best suited to major projects, usually comprising a panel of three respected independent neutrals, usually selected for their technical and dispute resolution skills; for example, legal, engineering and quantity surveying. However one-person DRB’s are increasingly being used on smaller projects.
The DRB may be engaged under a tri-partite agreement, and attends scheduled meetings on site throughout the project in order to be familiar with all aspects of the project. As the primary role of the DRB is dispute prevention, the DRB takes an interest in risk management, and in the early identification of potential disputes.
The conditions of the construction contract may provide for disputes to be settled by fast-track negotiation between senior management, only to be referred to the DRB for a decision if not settled quickly. More information on the DRB concept is available at www.drb.org.
Given the small number of DRB appointments in New Zealand there are few experienced DRB practitioners. I am a member of Dispute Resolution Board Federation and attended DRB training courses in Australia in 2008 and 2013.