Dispute Resolution Services

The RIAI provides Dispute Resolution Services through a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes which include: mediation, conciliation, adjudication and arbitration.

RIAI members have extensive experience in ADR and, as Architects, they have a key role in the construction process making them uniquely well placed to provide solutions to a wide variety of disputes related to construction, property and professional services.

Our members also act as expert witnesses and advocates in the ADR processes.

What is ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) covers a wide range of structured processes, including mediation and conciliation, and which differs from litigation and is separate from the courts. It involves the assistance of an impartial RIAI member whose role is to empower parties to resolve their own disputes. Decisions may be non-binding with ADR process striving to secure an agreed settlement between disputing parties.

The ADR processes are generally entered into on a voluntary basis but can then become a contractual requirement, as in the case of RIAI contracts. The processes have the benefit of speed, economy and privacy. Depending on the process employed the dispute can be resolved in a way that is flexible, with outcomes agreed between parties. This facilitates mutually beneficial commercial and business-friendly outcomes.

Dispute Resolution Processes


The generally accepted description of commercial mediation is a voluntary, non-binding, private dispute resolution process in which a neutral person (a Mediator) assists and facilitates the parties to reach a negotiated settlement. A core principle of mediation is that the parties control the outcome rather than a solution being imposed.


Conciliation is the intervention into a dispute by an acceptable, impartial, and neutral third-party (a Conciliator) who has no authoritative decision-making power but who assists and facilitates disputing parties voluntarily to reach their own mutually acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute. If parties fail to reach agreement the conciliator will evaluate the issues in dispute and put forward proposals for the settlement of the dispute in the form of a Recommendation.


Arbitration is a process whereby parties to a dispute agree to be bound by the decision of an independent third party (an Arbitrator). The role of an arbitrator is similar to that of a judge. An arbitrator is commonly an expert in the subject-matter of the dispute.


Adjudication is a method of settling disputes within a limited time period whereby an adjudicator uses its own knowledge and investigations, while weighing the evidence presented by the parties, to reach a decision that is legally binding until the dispute is referred to arbitration or litigation, or is settled between the parties themselves.

Expert Witness

Expert Witnesses provide impartial expert opinion evidence on matters which fall within their area of expertise. Their role is to assist the Court or other tribunals, such as Lands Tribunals, Arbitrators and Construction Adjudicators, Planning Inspectors, Mediators and others involved in alternative dispute resolution ADR.

Dispute Boards

A dispute board is a contractual mechanism for avoiding and/or resolving disputes without employing the cost and time needed in other dispute resolution processes such, as arbitration or litigation. Some dispute boards are like adjudication in process, whilst some more closely resemble conciliation.

Dispute Boards are formed at the beginning of projects before any disputes arises by selected appropriate experts who “shadow” a project in order to facilitate Dispute Avoidance, and in instances where a dispute does arise they provide a recommendation as to how the dispute can be resolved. If either party rejects the recommendation then the dispute will be referred to arbitration or litigation.

Training, Qualifications, Accreditation

The RIAI ADR Panel is a select group of RIAI members appointed by the President of the RIAI.

Members have both the dispute resolution skills and the professional knowledge and experience needed to provide an impartial and professional service:

  • Panel members undertake training in dispute resolution techniques to internationally approved levels.
  • Panel members are appointed to the Panel by the President of the RIAI on the basis of their education, professional skills and experience required to join the panel.
  • Panel members are regularly re-assessed on their dispute resolution and professional skills.
  • Each panel member is required to maintain comprehensive Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which is monitored by the RIAI.
  • Panel members are subject to the high ethical and professional standards of the RIAI.

ADR Procedures

If a dispute arises between the parties with regard to any of the provisions of the contract such dispute shall be referred to conciliation in accordance with the Conciliation Procedures set out in the contract.

The Disputes Resolution clauses of the RIAI form of contracts require a party to the contract seeking conciliation to notify the other party to that effect and at the same time specify the matter in dispute. The parties shall agree on a conciliator, and failing agreement within 10 working days of notice under article 2, shall request the President of the RIAI to appoint a conciliator from a list of conciliators agreed between the RIAI, the SCSI and the CIF.

Find an ADR Practitioner

The President of the RIAI maintains a panel of service providers (dispute resolvers and expert witnesses) which comprises the full spectrum of dispute resolution practitioners including mediators, arbitrators, adjudicators, dispute board members, independent experts and expert witnesses. The RIAI is the leader in Ireland for providing dispute resolution solutions and is committed to developing, innovating and improving on the dispute resolution provisions in the RIAI practice publications, including the suite of Client Service Provider Agreements; Construction Contracts; ancillary documents and guides.

RIAI members are appointed to the Panel when they have attained at least 10 years of post-qualification experience along with minimum qualifications in recognised dispute resolution, as recognised by their peers.

The RIAI notify the Construction Industry Federation, The Society of Chartered Surveyors and Engineers Ireland when changes to the panel are made.

Members are obligated to carry out a minimum period of dispute resolution on other relevant training throughout the year to remain on this panel.

Appointment of an ADR Professional

To request the appointment of an ADR professional the party (or parties) apply in writing to the RIAI President enclosing the application form along with the appropriate appointment fee. The RIAI Arbitrator Appointment Request Form is available to download here. The RIAI Conciliator Nomination Request Form is available to download here.

The President will use its sole discretion in acting on the request to appoint the professional. The President will not be bound to nominate or appoint a person from any particular panel, whether an RIAI Panel member or not.

This application should provide the following information:

  1. Details of the parties involved.
  2. Short description explaining the nature of the dispute.
  3. Details of the contract and dispute resolution clause.
  4. Estimated value of the dispute.