The Independent Dispute Avoidance Panel will try to settle construction disputes before they erupt into bitter rows

The Olympic Delivery Authority has appointed a panel of legal experts to help settle any disputes on the 2012 construction programme before they escalate into court cases.

The Independent Dispute Avoidance Panel is intended to help the ODA and contractors find pragmatic solutions to any problems before they become lengthy disputes.

The move will be viewed as an attempt to avoid bitter rows such as those which plagued the construction of Wembley stadium, which damaged the construction programme and mired the project in controversy.

The panel will be chaired by Dr Martin Barnes, the creator of the NEC contract and president of the association for project management. Barnes will be joined on the panel by ten industry experts, including Martin Davis and Richard Saxon.

A separate adjudication panel has also been set up to attempt to settle any disputes which cannot be resolved by the dispute avoidance mechanism. The panel is chaired by Peter Chapman and made up of adjudicators appointed by the Institution of Civil Engineers based on the nominations from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Royal Institution of British Architects, Chartered Institute of Building and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Positive and open relationships with our contractors are crucial to keeping the project on track

David Higgins

If any party decides to challenge an adjudicator’s decision, the final route for resolution remains the Technology and Construction Court.

David Higgins, ODA chief executive, said: “Positive and open relationships with our contractors are crucial to keeping the project on track and will be even more important as more companies come on board to start building the venues. This independent Panel will help us and our contractors work together to identify and resolve any potential issues early.”

Dr Martin Barnes, chairman of the Independent Dispute Avoidance Panel Chairman Dr Martin Barnes said: “The innovative approach of avoiding rather than resolving disputes is essential given the unique challenges that the ODA and its contractors face in delivering the London 2012 infrastructure and venues, particularly the immovable end date.

“The panel brings an independent perspective to helping ensure that the London 2012 projects are completed on time and within budget and enhance the reputation of UK construction.”