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Singapore launches disputes protocol for mega infrastructure projects

Out-Law News | 24 Oct 2018 | 2:14 pm | 1 min. read

A new dispute management process for very large infrastructure projects has been launched in Singapore.

The Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol is designed to help parties manage disputes and minimise the risks of time and cost overruns in 'mega' infrastructure projects. It was developed by a working group of infrastructure  and dispute resolution specialists and will operate with professional and administrative support from the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC).

The new protocol has already attracted interest from parties who are keen to incorporate it into their projects, which are estimated to be worth S$500 million or more, the Ministry of Law said.

Under the new protocol a Dispute Board will be appointed comprising up to three neutral professionals who are experts in fields of engineering, quantity surveying and law, in the beginning of the project.

This Dispute Board will follow the project from start to finish and help to manage issues as they arise. Once dispute arises, the new protocol provides a wider range of dispute-management methods including mediation, opinion and determination.

It helps anticipate issues and prevent differences from snow snowballing and escalating into full-blown disputes which become difficult and expensive to resolve.

This new protocol was developed by a working group comprising private sector infrastructure and dispute resolution specialists, the SIMC and the SMC, which was convened by Ministry of Law in this January to see how Singapore could leverage its current strength in dispute resolution to innovate and better serve the needs of complex infrastructure projects in the region.

"The SIDP builds on processes which are familiar to infrastructure stakeholders but has unique features for more effective dispute resolution. Though new, we are confident that infrastructure stakeholders will quickly see the value of the SIDP and adopt it once they do,” said Indranee Rajah, second minister for finance and education.

Infrastructure specialist Chen Han Toh of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Outlaw.com, said, "The protocol embodies an innovative approach which is highly engaged and versatile, capable of being tailored to address the specific needs and challenges of the most demanding projects. Successful project delivery and dispute avoidance are its core aims."