A recent study and report by ARCADIS found that construction disputes in the U.S. lasted an average of 14.4 months in 2011, compared to 11.4 months in 2010.  In contrast, the global average was only 10.6 months, and specifically disputes in the U.K. were resolved at only 8.7 months.   Generally, construction disputes in 2011 fell to 32.2 million dollars from 35.1 million in 2010. 

ARCADIS (a design, consulting, engineering and management services company) believes that the dramatic fall in the value of U.S. construction disputes is based on a depressed construction market and not with an increase in any type of dispute resolution.  The issue has also been raised that if there is a bad economy, less bills are being paid so therefore more money is owed and then more litigation. However, if no one is getting paid, can anyone afford to file a claim.

The study found that the most common causes of disputes in global and U.S. construction projects were (a) ambiguities in a contract document; (b) incomplete design information; (c) conflicting party interests; (d) failure to make interim awards on extensions of time and monetary relief; and (e) failure to properly administer the contract.

It seems to me that only (c) - (e) would really be impacted by the economy. Ambiguities in construction projects and incomplete design information will always be there.

Have you noticed a decrease in disputes?

It is interesting to see if construction disputes will continue down this trend.