Dispute Resolution Board Concept

The Dispute Resolution Board (DRB) is a panel of three experienced, respected, and impartial reviewers. The Board is organized before construction begins and meets at the jobsite periodically. The Board is usually formed by the owner selecting a member for approval by the contractor, the contractor selecting a member for approval by the owner, with the two thus chosen selecting the third to be approved by both parties. The three DRB members then select one as chair with the approval of the owner and contractor.

DRB members are provided with the contract documents, become familiar with the project procedures and the participants, and are kept abreast of job progress and developments. The DRB meets with owner and contractor representatives during regular site visits and encourages the resolution of disputes at the job level. The DRB process helps the parties head off problems before they escalate into major disputes.

When a dispute flowing from the contract or the work cannot be resolved by the parties, it can be referred to the DRB. The Board review includes a hearing at which each party explains its position and answers questions. In arriving at a recommendation, the DRB considers the relevant contract documents, correspondence, other documentation, and the particular circumstances of the dispute.

The Board’s output consists of a written, non–binding recommendation for resolution of the dispute. The report includes an explanation of the Board’s evaluation of the facts, contract provisions and the reasoning which led to its conclusion. Acceptance by the parties is facilitated by their confidence in the DRB-in its members technical expertise, first-hand understanding of the project conditions, and practical judgment; as well as by the parties opportunity to be heard.

While the DRB recommendation for resolution of a dispute is non-binding, the DRB process is most effective if the contract language includes a provision for the admissibility of a DRB recommendation into any subsequent arbitration or legal proceeding.