JAMS Global Engineering and Construction Group
The JAMS Global Engineering and Construction Group (“GEC”) provides expert mediation, arbitration, appellate arbitration, project neutral, and other ADR services to the U. S. and global construction industry to resolve disputes in a timely and cost effective manner. These specialists also resolve even the most complex matters efficiently utilizing early intervention methods, ranging from structured negotiations, project neutrals, initial decision-making, and mediation, to adjudication, dispute review boards, and mini-trials. By naming JAMS in your contract documents as your project’s dispute resolver you have access to the most knowledgeable and efficient experts in the industry and can better control your clients overall risk and costs. JAMS offers a wide range of dispute resolution clauses to meet your needs.
Construction Arbitrators, Mediators, and Dispute Resolvers on Complex Projects
JAMS GEC neutrals have an unparalleled depth of experience and knowledge about the construction process. They are also skilled in dispute resolution management. JAMS GEC neutrals serve as mediators, arbitrators, and “rapid resolution” dispute resolvers across the United States and throughout the world in complex disputes and claims related to a wide range of engineering, construction and infrastructure projects – both public and private. These projects include bridges, subways and transportation facilities, roads and highways, casinos, resorts, airports, stadiums and arenas, water and wastewater plants, refineries, pipelines, tunnels, dams, levees, mines, railroads, hospitals and healthcare facilities, courthouses, prisons and jails, manufacturing and distribution facilities, commercial office towers, high-rise condominiums and hotels, municipal projects, university buildings, schools, shopping centers, and a range of energy projects including power plants, and co-generation, electrical transmission, and nuclear facilities.
JAMS GEC neutrals have both subject matter expertise and broad experience in resolving disputes among all construction industry participants, including public and private owners, contractors, subcontractors, specialty contractors, architects, engineers, sureties, insurers, material manufacturers and suppliers, equipment suppliers, lenders, technical consultants, construction accountants, and building code officials.
Cost-Effective and Efficient Managers of Arbitration
Arbitrator expertise and experience that promote prompt understanding and fair resolution of complex construction and infrastructure disputes are some of the paramount reasons clients have utilized binding arbitration rather than courtroom litigation as the construction industry’s dispute resolution method of choice. JAMS GEC neutrals are some of the most experienced arbitrators in the field. They also are experts in the critical role of providing cost-effective and efficient management of the entire arbitration process – from before the hearing through the issuance of a reasoned award. Such cost-effective management procedures include control of pre-hearing discovery and hearing document admissibility, use of hearing "chess clock" procedures, conduct of joint examinations of opposing expert witnesses, prompt rulings on dispositive and discovery motions, maintenance of hearing schedules with minimum delays or interruptions, issuance of reasoned awards in sufficient detail to assure settlement of all issues in dispute, and service as appellate arbitrators to provide prompt binding reviews of awards rendered by others.
Although there are various reasons why mediations succeed or fail, perhaps the most important ingredient for success is selection of an outstanding mediator. Achieving settlement of complex construction disputes through mediation requires a mediator with expertise, skill, and experience in the mediation process, as well as in the construction industry. Such expertise, skill, and experience allows the mediator, in confidential discussions with individual parties, to develop bases for settlement by assisting the parties’ as requested in their respective evaluations of critical factual and legal issues, and not just serving as a practitioner of mere “shuttle diplomacy”. JAMS GEC neutrals are such mediators.
Because the process for judicial confirmation of an arbitration award can be challenging, and because JAMS GEC neutrals are highly regarded by the construction industry and are experts in the field of construction and infrastructure law, members often are requested by parties to review arbitration awards de novo based on the hearing record. Under JAMS Optional Arbitration Appeal Procedures, the appointed panel exercises the same scope of review as an appellate court in the same jurisdiction.
The Project Neutral has one client – the project. Before construction begins, owners, contractors, and architects frequently name a Project Neutral in their contracts. As a trained ADR specialist, the Project Neutral becomes part of the project team and follows the design and building process from concept to completion. The Project Neutral offers the benefits of advice on ADR methods most suitable for early resolution of particular disputes, early neutral intervention to resolve brewing controversies by prompt dispute evaluation, and mediation in an informal, cost-effective manner during the overall design and construction process. The Project Neutral accepts the team's trust and can meet with members privately to discuss concerns about keeping the project on time and within budget. The Project Neutral is available on an as-needed basis, not only to mediate disputes as they arise, but also to avoid future litigation by identifying and addressing potential problems before they grow into claims. JAMS GEC neutrals understand the complexity of project financing and the demands of multinational mega-projects with numerous participants. After working for many years with owners, contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals, we can appreciate each of the parties' needs and positions.
Dispute Review Boards
Dispute Review Boards ("DRB") routinely are established at the beginning of many large projects to render non-binding decisions on disputes as they arise during construction of the project. JAMS GEC neutrals serving as DRB members promptly resolve claims and disputes as they arise. With broad engineering, construction, and legal backgrounds, and commitment to ADR work, JAMS GEC neutrals are uniquely qualified to serve on a dispute review board over the lifetime of a project.
Adjudication is an ADR process that resolves claims and disputes during the course of construction by issuance of interim decisions binding only until completion of the project and appealable thereafter. All too often projects get bogged down over payment issues that push construction into a downward spiral. Adjudication keeps the project moving by the early interim resolution of problems - usually within a 30 day period - so that owners and lenders won’t have reason to stop the flow of money. JAMS GEC neutrals serve as adjudicators during the project and others as appellate arbitrators after completion.
Initial Decision Makers
Under the contract documents of the American Institute of Architects, parties have the option of appointing, in place of the architect, a neutral to be the initial decision maker on claims and disputes between the owner and contractor. Because architects are not trained to decide legal questions such as “breach,” “material breach,” and “just cause” to terminate for default, experienced JAMS GEC neutrals are better at making those initial decisions filled with legal portent. Unless the contract provides otherwise, the initial decision normally can be submitted to mediation and then either to arbitration or litigation for binding resolution.