Dispute Boards > Selection of DBs

The engagement of a dispute board member is a personal appointment. A company or professional practice may not be employed for such a role.

FIDIC requires dispute board members to be appointed by mutual agreement of the parties. A suitable means of selection would be for each party to firstly agree on the criteria for the members. Factors such as professional background and the length and suitability of experience could be taken into account here.

The parties could then propose several potentially suitable members which the other party may have the opportunity to reject. This process would produce a shortlist of potential members who may be approached jointly by the parties to ensure availability and willingness to serve on the board.


Mutual Agreement of Board Members 

This will then result in a final list for joint selection, from which, hopefully, the parties will be able to agree. In the case of a three-person board, it is usual for the parties to appoint two members and for the parties to then consult with the appointed members to agree on the third member. The third member often acts as the chairman of the dispute board.

If the parties cannot agree on the member(s), or if one of the parties refuses to cooperate in making the appointment, most forms of contract include provisions whereby an appointing body named in the contract, such as the chamber of commerce or a professional institute, will firstly consult with the parties and then make the appointment.


Selection of Suitable Members is Important

The identification of individuals with appropriate skills, experience and qualifications can be a challenge and a time-consuming process, but it is definitely worthwhile putting the appropriate effort into this process to ensure that an effective board is appointed.

When making a selection of potential board members, certain qualities are desirable and if a member proposed by either party does not possess such qualities, it would be sensible for the other party to reject the candidate. The potential member should:

  • Hold appropriate educational and professional qualifications
  • Be suitably experienced, both professionally and in the type of project or work being undertaken
  • Hold a position of respect and seniority within the industry
  • Have ‘hands on’ rather than theoretical experience at different levels within the industry
  • Hold specific qualifications in dealing with disputes
  • Be included on recognised dispute board lists
  • In cases where there are multi-cultural criteria, be experienced in dealing with different nationalities and cultures
  • Be a good communicator, both verbally and in writing
  • Be demonstrably impartial

The parties should also carefully consider the separate professional backgrounds and experience of the candidates. A board consisting of three engineers for example, would probably not be as effective as a board that consists of an engineer, a contract or commercial specialist and a construction lawyer, because of their different specialties and skill sets.


Where to Find Members

Potential members may be sourced from knowledge of the industry, personal experience of the project team, or from lists maintained by various professional institutes. You could also find potential members on Dispute Board MENA’s register.

Contracts usually provide mechanisms for replacing an appointed member in cases where the member’s appointment is terminated by mutual agreement of the parties, or the member is unable to carry out his duties.