Alarming rise in construction disputes

By Mike Hayes29 June 2022

A new report has revealed that the vast majority of AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) businesses have been involved in some kind of legal dispute in the past 12 months.

Disputes in the construction industry have risen significantly in the past 12 months. Photo: Adobe Stock

An independent survey, carried out on behalf of the email technology firm Mail Manager, found that 87% of more than 500 respondents had dealt with disputes in the past 12 months, the number rising significantly from 63% in the previous year.

Tim Setchfield, head of product at Mail Manager, which is part of Ideagen, said, “One reason for this could be that businesses, put under pressure by Covid staffing challenges, energy prices, supply chain delays and the promise of high inflation, are applying more commercial and legal scrutiny. This would then create the ideal growing conditions for an increased number of disputes, as we have seen in this year’s research.”

A significant majority of survey respondents (87%) also voiced concerns about their project information not being readily available and visible, in the event of a legal challenge.

Given the dramatic rise in the number of disputes, Mail Manager found that AEC companies increasingly need to locate information from past projects. In fact, 51% of the survey’s respondents said they had had occasion to search for details on historic work.

Stuart Rowe, vice president of collaboration strategy at Mail Manager, said, “Our research has found that the majority of project correspondence remains in email inboxes, which means it is difficult for people to locate and retrieve project information when they need it.

“This is a huge concern as most project scope changes reside in email inboxes. Failing to properly manage all information and records also prevents a Golden Thread, or a Single Source of Truth, across projects and businesses.”

Yet the survey reports that only 44% of respondents said their company currently requires employees to file project-related emails in a central location, while 15% said no emails are filed across the entire business.

Examining the issue

A webinar looking into the rise in disputes and the benefits of email management systems within construction businesses will be held by KHL on July 28.

The online event will include speakers from the Canadian general contractor MJ Dixon and the global engineering firm Arup.

Registration for this webinar is free. For further details, click here

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