A mandatory competency to level 1, M006 also features as an optional competency on a range of different pathways
The Conflict Avoidance, Management and Dispute Resolution competency is an important and wide ranging competency.
It is a Mandatory Competency (to level 1) and features as an optional competency on a number of different pathways including, Building Surveying (to level 2), Commercial Property Practice (to level 3), Facilities Management (to level 2/3), Housing Management and Development (to level 2/3), Quantity Surveying and Construction (to level 2), Residential Property Practice (to level 2/3), Residential Survey and Valuation (to level 2/3), Rural (to level 2/3) and Valuation (to level 2/3).
As it is a mandatory competency you will need, at a minimum, to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the topic to level 1.
You must be familiar with the main types of dispute resolution procedures as well as the various alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques currently in use within the industry. An awareness of the procedure to be followed for each of these methods is also essential, as well as an ability to describe the features which differentiate each.
It is advisable to have an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the dispute resolution and ADR methods, the situations that are suited to their use and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
At level 1 you will not be expected to have a detailed understanding of the inner workings of each dispute resolution method and a more general overall knowledge should be enough to see you through.
Candidates must have an awareness of the various procedures for conflict management and avoidance and can sometimes worry that they will not be able to adequately demonstrate having undertaken conflict avoidance or management. In the course of most construction project disputes will invariably arise to a greater or lesser extent.
The best way to demonstrate having undertaken conflict avoidance and management is by explaining the actions taken when faced with a dispute, or potential dispute. Such actions could include the preventative measures taken to ensure that a dispute does not arise in the first instance or if a dispute does arise that it is not allowed to escalate. Examples of such actions could include arranging a meeting in relation to a disputed interim/final valuation, or arranging meetings in relation to the agreement of variations.
It is worth remembering that not all disputes involve major issues or large amounts. For the purposes of this competency large scale disputes and the means through which they are resolved, avoided or managed are treated in the same manner as small scale disputes.
At level 2 you will be expected to show a practical application of your knowledge and understanding in relation to this competency.
This may be more difficult for those who have not been directly involved in a formal dispute resolution situation, but a detailed technical understanding of the various dispute resolution mechanisms should be enough to overcome this. As outlined previously demonstrating a practical application of conflict avoidance and management can sometimes be achieved through the duties and responsibilities undertaken during the training period easier than you might initially appreciate.
If you can demonstrate any measures that you formulated, helped formulate or put in place to try to avoid or manage disputes then you will be at a distinct advantage.
You will also be expected at level 2 to have an awareness of the various pieces of legislation currently in place which provide the basis for, and govern the use of, the binding forms of dispute resolution (Adjudication and Arbitration). Statutory adjudication in particular has defined timescales which you will be expected to have an awareness and understanding of.
At level 3 you will be expected to have given advice to clients in relation to the issues outlined above. This advice may have be in the form of advising on the choice of a particular dispute resolution method, advice on methods of conflict avoidance and management or on the actions that should be taken once a dispute has been formalised.
If you have included a dispute resolution aspect in your final submission then a high level of knowledge will be expected from the assessors and you must prepare yourself for tough questions to be asked.
The terminology in this area can be confusing and sometimes there is very little to differentiate one process from another. In this respect one final tip is to be wary for the perennial questions which catch candidates out, for example; what is the difference between mediation and conciliation? Or, what is the difference between an expert witness and an advocate?
The conflict avoidance, management and dispute resolution competency is a wide ranging topic which has almost limitless scope for continuous study.
Candidates can sometimes get caught up in a level of detail that is not necessarily required and you must examine your level of experience as a whole, and the level required by your chosen pathway, to assess the level of knowledge required.
Unless you are a dispute resolution practitioner or have included a dispute resolution aspect in your submission a broader and more general knowledge should be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this competency.
Colm O’Suilleabhain is a senior consultant at Trett Consulting.