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The role expert determination plays in construction disputes

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Construction Law

Construction disputes can be costly for all involved parties. Common construction disputes arise where there is disagreement about a term or terms in the construction contract. For example, the parties may differ on what constitutes contractual completion.

Like with other types of contracts, it is usually possible for an aggrieved party to a construction contract to sue the other party. Because litigation is often time-consuming and expensive, parties may pursue one or more forms of alternative dispute resolution. Expert determination is a popular one.

What is expert determination?

Construction contracts can be extraordinarily complex, as they may hinge on technicalities in workmanship, materials or methods. These matters may be too complex for judges or juries to tackle. Expert determination is often appropriate where specialized knowledge is necessary to work through the dispute. With this type of dispute resolution, a specialist who understands the issues provides an opinion.

Who picks the expert?

There are a couple of ways construction contractors may select a specialist to provide an evaluation. First, the contract may name the specialist at its outset. If this is the case, the parties may have had a chance to negotiate before designating the expert. Alternatively, in an effort to resolve the dispute, parties may have to agree on a specialist before pursuing a determination.

Is expert determination legally binding?

The parties to the construction contract have no legal obligation to comply with the specialist’s determination. If a party believes the determination is incorrect or unfair, the party typically may explore other forms of alternative dispute resolution, file suit or take additional actions.

Ultimately, for parties that wish to avoid prolonged and expensive litigation, relying on the expertise of a qualified specialist may be beneficial.