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Contract dispute resolution service

Our dispute resolution service offers an effective and inexpensive way to resolve disputes over domestic and international engineering and construction contracts. 

How the service can help

Some of our members are experts in resolving disputes over engineering contracts. They may be able to act on your behalf to help both parties to come to an agreement. 

We can put you in touch with experts who can help you with these methods of contract dispute resolution:

• Adjudication
• Arbitration
• Mediation
• Expert determination


Adjudication is a legal way to resolve disputes over construction contracts, introduced by the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. It applies to all construction contracts entered into after 1 May 1998.

Any building contract or contract for the installation of mechanical, electrical and heating works or the maintenance of such works is a construction contract. Design or consultancy contracts associated with a construction contract are also included, although there are some exceptions.

This law also sets out the requirements that let parties refer a dispute to an independent person, who is then required to make a decision within 28 days of the matter being referred.

Read more about the definition of construction contracts and what types of contract are excluded.

How it works

We can act as an official Adjudicator Nominating Body, which means we can appoint arbitrators and adjudicators to help bring a resolution to a dispute. Our dispute resolution panel is made up of highly qualified Chartered Engineers who are trained and experienced in dispute resolution.

To resolve a dispute via adjudication, the party wishing to begin the adjudication process must send a Notice of Adjudication to the other party. This is more formally called a Notice of Intention to Refer a Dispute of Adjudication.

The notice must contain:

• The nature and brief description of the dispute and the parties involved
• When and where the dispute arose
• The nature of the redress being sought
• Names and addresses of the parties to the contract

It’s important to get the structure and wording of the notice right. We’ll use your notice to determine the expertise that the adjudicator should have.

Finding an adjudicator

An adjudicator, panel of adjudicators or an Adjudicator Nominating Body may already be named in your contract’s dispute clause, or you may agree a suitable person to act as an adjudicator.

If a person or body is named, you must contact them to see if they are prepared to act. If they decline, contact us. We act as an official Adjudicator Nominating Body.

We’ll normally appoint an adjudicator within 24 hours of a request being made.

We have a list of Chartered Engineers who are trained, experienced adjudicators. We can supply this list to you on request, free of charge. 

Getting started

To nominate an adjudicator, you’ll need to send to us the following:

• A completed Nomination of an Adjudicator form - you can download this from our website
• A copy of the Notice of Adjudication
• A cheque made payable to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for £250 (plus VAT) for the nomination fee
• Contact names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for both parties

You'll need to post them first class to:

Sarah Rogers, Manager Information and Library Service 
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
1 Birdcage Walk

At the same time, you must email the Nomination of an Adjudicator form and a copy of the Notice of Adjudication to:

We’ll notify you of the selection of an adjudicator within five days of your request.

The appointment of the adjudicator must take place within seven days of the submission of the Notice of Adjudication to the other party.

The adjudicator is then required to make a decision within 28 days.

Helpful resources

Further information on adjudication is available online:

CIC User's Guide to Adjudication (scroll to the bottom of the page)
The scheme for construction contracts regulations 1998, a recognised adjudicator nominating body


Arbitration is a legal process that covers disputes over engineering and construction contracts. It was introduced into law by the Arbitration Act 1996.

It’s more cost effective than litigation and also less formal, because you can choose the arbitrator or the organisation that will appoint the arbitrator. The arbitrator can decide which arbitration procedure they use, as there’s more flexibility in the process.

An arbitrator’s decision is legally binding on the parties. Decisions are also more likely to be recognised outside of the UK.

Finding an arbitrator

First, you’ll need to check the contractual procedure (the Arbitration Agreement) in your engineering or construction contract.

If there’s no contractual procedure, you’re free to agree a suitable arbitrator and you can approach any professional body recognised as an appointing body for arbitrators, such as us.

We’ll help you to appoint an arbitrator from our list of Chartered arbitrators. The arbitrators on our list are all Chartered Engineers who have qualifications and experience in settling disputes by arbitration. We can supply this list on request, free of charge.

Getting started

Start the arbitrator appointment process by doing the following:

• Download and complete our arbitration form
• Provide contact names, email addresses and phone numbers of both parties
• Make a photocopy of the arbitration clause of your contract, if it has one
• Write a cheque made payable to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for the appointment fee of £250 (plus VAT)

You should then send them together, by first class post, to:

Sarah Rogers, Manager Information and Library Service
Institution of Mechanical Engineers 
1 Birdcage Walk

Helpful resources

Additional information is available online:

Arbitration Act 1996 from
Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 


The goal of mediation is to settle disputes over engineering and construction contracts through compromise.

Mediation facilitates good communication between the two parties, by providing a process and the skills of the mediator.

How it works

Mediators don't give you advice or make decisions for you.

Competent mediators will have dispute resolution experience and be able to use technical and commercial expertise to explore the strengths and weaknesses of both positions, leading to an agreement.

Finding a mediator 

There are several websites that provide lists of mediators. You may need to search for ‘mediator’ or ‘mediation’:

Expert Witness Institute directory (for registered users and members only)
Academy of Experts directory

We can supply a list of Chartered Engineers who can act as mediators, free of charge.

Expert determination

Expert determination helps contracting parties to settle disputes over engineering and construction contracts confidentially and inexpensively. It can be as flexible as you need it to be.

How it works

The process is not governed by law as, for example, litigation, arbitration and adjudication are. Expert determination is governed by the contract between you and the chosen expert.

Finding an expert

We have a list of Chartered Engineers who are trained as experts in resolving disputes in the engineering and construction industries. We can supply this list to you on request, free of charge.

To engage an expert on your behalf, we charge a fee of £250 (plus VAT).

Helpful resources

If you’re seeking a contract dispute resolution using expert determination, we recommend that you use our ‘Rules for expert determination’. 

These rules can be included in your contract with the expert. They set out how long the process will take.

Download our template agreement document to use with the expert.

Ask a question

Contact us if you have any questions about our dispute resolution service.