The case for mediation – The Property Chronicle
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The case for mediation 'Undisputed doyen of mediation' David Richbell explains how to avoid legal costs escalating beyond reason

The Guest Essay

Hammer lying on wooden board with several bent nails in

I mediated a dispute a few weeks ago between a building owner and a building contractor. The contractor was a medium-sized company which had a reputation for carrying out high quality work. Not the cheapest but they always had satisfied customers. Indeed, that is why the building owner chose to use them.

The building owner went about the project properly – not like many that are featured on television who seem to start work without a proper scheme or price. He employed an architect, a quantity surveyor and a structural engineer, with the brief to build a house in a prime coastal position for a budget of £750,000. It was agreed that a price should be negotiated with the chosen builder, but their tender came in at over £1million. Despite that, the building work started and negotiations continued to reduce the price. Indeed, they continued throughout the project as some of the reductions started to creep back in. The house was completed, a little late but that wasn’t an issue, and the architect/contract administrator issued a penultimate certificate in the agreed final account sum, showing an outstanding payment of around £70,000. The building owner, a retired accountant, contested the final account that had been agreed by the contract administrator, stating that many items had been rounded off to the contractor’s advantage and that several measurements were incorrect. Several months later the building owner produced a defects list, the cost of which exceeded the outstanding invoices.

The Guest Essay

About David Richbell

David Richbell

An "undisputed doyen of mediation", David Richbell is one of the UK’s ‘senior’ mediators, having mediated close to 1000 disputes since 1992. David's career started in construction and engineering, however his vast experience now means that his appointments cover all manner of disputes. He has authored a number of books including 'Mediation of Construction Disputes'. He is particularly experienced in multi-party mediations and cases which are highly complex, not least due to value (up to £650 million and down to £4000) but also because of high emotion, complexity of details and commercial imperatives. His services are also sought for those seeking to avoid or manage disputes. In 2016, he was recognised as a Thought Leader in Mediation by Who’s Who Legal. A full-time mediator since 1996, David is a member of In Place of Strife, The Mediation Chamber's panel of mediators, a Fellow of the CIArb, is accredited by the International Mediation Institute (IMI), CEDR, the Institute of Psychotherapists and the CIArb and is an alumnus of the Advanced Mediation Program at Harvard Law School under Professor Robert Mnookin. He can be appointed through In Place of Strife, the Mediation Chambers at

Articles by David Richbell

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