Arbitration centre seeks to curb legal disputes in construction sector

Sixty Rwandans from various professional disciplines are undertaking a five-day training in dispute resolution.
Singh Harban addresses the trainees in Kigali Hotel on Saturday. (Michel Nkurunziza)
Singh Harban addresses the trainees in Kigali Hotel on Saturday. (Michel Nkurunziza)

Sixty Rwandans from various professional disciplines are undertaking a five-day training in dispute resolution.

The training, that opened in Kigali on Saturday, was organised under the recently signed MoU between Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) and Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA).

Participants include engineers, lawyers, surveyors, contractors, and employees of NGOs that engage in designing construction contracts.

Singh Harban, a facilitator, said the programme aims at equipping trainees  with adjudication skills.

  “We need to be able to manage disputes without seeking legal redress,” he said.

The course covers adjudication process, construction law, basic concepts of the law of contract, tort and evidence, an overview of the construction process, procurement processes, contractual arrangements, among others.

Regarding payment disputes, Harban said adjudication gives effect to the premise of “pay first, argue later” so that activities are hindered.

Bernadette Uwicyeza, the KIAC secretary general, said whereas adjudication helps  resolve construction or engineering disputes in the country, very little is known about the practice yet adjudication clauses still appear in many contracts, especially in construction projects.

“In contracts, it is said that in case of disputes, parties involved should contact the adjudicator for a decision but many people skip this stage which worsens the situation,” she said.

She said it is better for people to understand adjudication procedure, how adjudicators are established, and rules that govern them.

Countries like Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia and UK have enacted such laws, the reason why their experts have been involved in the training, she said.

Uwicyeza said the trainees will get experiences from those countries which will help them to decide on the way forward.

The training is one of the recommendations from KIAC’s last seminar, where it was concluded that there was need to review the model contracts, and spearhead the drafting of a policy proposal to establish a law on adjudication in the construction sector in the country.

After the training, participants would be listed and enrolled on the KLRCA panel of adjudicators as well as join the KIAC data base of adjudicators so that any one in need of their services  can easily find them, Uwicyeza said. 

Lawyers who attended the training  will help advise and design well prepared contracts and  an adjudication framework.

Engineer Dismas Nkubana, the chairman of Rwanda Engineering Council, cited badly prepared contracts and poor valuation of cost of activities among the causes of payment disputes.

“We hope the training will help address the causes of disputes and how they can be managed,” he said.

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