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Take the problem-solving pledge

The Conflict Avoidance Process is being adopted by an increasing number of bodies, but what is it exactly? And how could it benefit your business and save you time, hassle and money? Len has all the answers…

In some of my previous articles you’ll have seen several references to the Conflict Avoidance Process – or CAP for short – which I believe is a tremendous benefit to the construction sector.

You may also have seen that more and more people are getting involved and signing the Conflict Avoidance Pledge to show their support, so I thought I’d answer some of the most common questions I get asked about it.

Why should my business get involved?

Easy – CAP is an early intervention process that comes into play when problems on a construction project arise and you can’t find a solution. For example, say there’s an issue and an employer is arguing with the contractor that something they have to do is ‘design development’ and the contractor is not entitled to a variation, which might involve you as a sub-contractor. You need to get that resolved and you can refer the matter to a Conflict Avoidance Panel.

So how does it work?

Firstly, the employer and the contractor need to have agreed to have the CAP in the main contract, and you would also want that provision in your sub-contract. If an issue arises, the parties can either have a CAP named in the contract or they can get a list of experienced professionals from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This could be an architect, quantity surveyor or services engineer. Both sides identify the issue and call in the Conflict Avoidance Panel for a discussion, and the panel in due course issues a non-binding recommendation on resolving the issue. Anecdotally, most recommendations have been accepted, the parties get agreement, the matter is resolved and you can move on. This stops all the bickering you get on projects these days.

So, what do you need to do?

First you need to go to the RICS website at and sign up to the Conflict Avoidance Pledge – it’s free and only takes a few minutes. RICS will then send you some further information on the process. If you’re about to sign a contract, then suggest to the other party that you’d like to have this process in play. Or if you have a problem on a current contract, then do the same.

How much will this cost me?

The good news is that is costs nothing to get a Conflict Avoidance Panel appointed, and it only costs money if the panel does any work, probably on an hourly or a daily basis. Most issues get resolved quickly in a day or so, but you can get an idea of costs before you get the panel involved. Ideally the costs are shared between the parties.

I’m glad to report that really good progress is being made in Scotland on CAP. So far, 45 organisations and individuals have signed the Conflict Avoidance Pledge, including SELECT and fellow trade bodies like the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbers’ Federation (SNIPEF).

A cross-industry working group has also been set up to drive the process forward.

The great thing for me is that this marks a real cultural change in the industry, resulting in greater collaboration and fewer disputes. So please sign the Pledge today!


If you need further guidance on CAP, then contact me through SELECT by emailing



Len has made an exclusive video for SELECT Members that explains the many benefits of CAP. Watch it here.


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