The implementation of alternative dispute resolution methods by architectural practitioners in South Africa
Disputes within the built environment are usually diverse, with their complexity often depending on the number of role players and difficulty of the construction project. Disputes can be resolved through litigation, but this is often costly and time consuming. A study in 2012 reveals that, among others, arbitration, mediation, negotiation and adjudication are different forms of Alternative Dispute-Resolution (ADR) methods preferred and used to resolve disputes in the built environment. This article offers insight into the current preference and application of ADR methods by architectural practitioners in the South African built environment. Registered persons, as defined by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP), formed the population of this study. According to SACAP, a registered person is defined as a person who is registered in one of the categories of professionals and/or candidates. The study will refer to architectural practitioners as a collective population group. A questionnaire survey was distributed to 13 622 registered SACAP professionals and candidates to determine the implementation of ADR methods. This questionnaire was distrusted by the Chief Operations Officer, Mrs Barbara van Stade to the aforementioned SACAP database. The survey response amounted to 396 participating architectural practitioners, resulting in 2.91% of registered architectural professionals and candidates in the South African built environment. Consequently, this is the most comprehensive study on the preferred use of ADR methods by architectural practitioners in the built environment of South Africa. This study specifically focuses on architectural practitioners who have been involved in settling disputes between the period of 2012 to 2016. The findings reveal a shifting preference in ADR methods used since what the previous study found in 2012. Although previous studies indicate adjudication as the preferred method to resolve disputes, the data reveals that architectural practitioners increasingly make use of negotiation, followed by mediation and then arbitration. This study identifies current ADR trends, and provides a perspective on the future development of ADR mechanisms for architectural professionals in the South African built environment.
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