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The “standing neutral”—most often exemplified in construction bythe Dispute Review Board—is a modern-day improvement on thetraditional combination of architect’s decision and prompt ad hocarbitration of disputes. The process has the advantage off preventingmost disputes and, in the rare case a dispute arises, recommendingsolutions to resolve it in real time.
The construction industry has long recognized the need for a speedyand expert way of addressing problems on construction projects. If leftunresolved, problems are likely to disrupt and delay completion of projectsand possibly interfere with their success. Over 100 years ago, constructiondisputes were resolved at the job site by having the project architect orengineer make non-binding decisions. If either party disagreed with thearchitect or engineer’s decision, the problem would be submitted to aninformal ad hoc arbitration convened promptly at the project site. Thesetwo processes complemented each other. The architect or engineer had anincentive to be scrupulously fair because his or her decision could bechallenged in a prompt arbitration. As a result, relatively few decisions byarchitects or engineers needed to be challenged.