How long will peace continue now we’ve started to ease the lockdown and we are getting back to work. Ok some of us have worked at home through out the lockdown and some have been going to work in our factories and shops but many of our work operations have been suspended and are just starting to open up again. How many of us, as suppliers or purchasers, will be reaching to the top shelf and dusting off the contracts to see what their position is regarding extra costs, extension of time or just cancelling the order that isn’t needed any more.

The Government, alongside its furlough scheme and other financial support measures, has also been encouraging contracting parties to think before launching into a ‘not my fault v it’s your responsibility’ battle. In May the Cabinet Office issued ‘Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the Covid-19’. It sets out 15 instances where they considered companies should show responsible and fair behaviour.  I doubt that anyone would disagree with any of the points until ………..

The problem is, once a company is staring down the barrel of a major financial hit that could result in the company closing down, they will start to fight hard and the governments hoped for even handed negotiation soon turns into a writ. One of the difficulties with a direct negotiation is it can be impossible for the personalities at the coal face of the contract to detach themselves enough to be open minded to a result which sees both parties carrying some of the burden for the problem. It is then when an independent dispute resolver could be brought in to sort out the differences and get the contract rolling again. A trained mediator can work with both parties at short notice and with little extra cost compared to the alternative of throwing writs about, engaging solicitors, barristers and then the court to reach a financial conclusion but not one that gets the contract done.

NDR can provide disputing parties with experienced dispute resolvers.

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