Improving Small Claims Management Using a Claims Management Damages Accounting Form - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 58, No. 2
The author is a practicing attorney specializing in construction law at his own firm, Construction Law Services, in Brookline, Mass. He previously served as chief counsel for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in Boston. In addition to serving as an advocate in litigation and arbitration, he serves as an arbitrator on the AAA roster of construction neutrals.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
This article prescribes the use of a Claims Management Damages Accounting Form to organize information about all claims for damages and defenses in small construction disputes. Damages in virtually all construction disputes are compensatory and are always calculated arithmetically. Therefore, the author recommends requiring the parties at the beginning of the dispute resolution process to fill out a form to clarify the amount sought or acknowledged for each item of work. This form will help the arbitrator manage and decide the dispute more effectively.
This is the first of four articles on managing arbitration proceedings involving small construction claims. The purpose of these articles is to help attorneys prepare and present their claims more effectively and assist arbitrators in managing the arbitration process.
The challenge for arbitrators who hear small claims is to deliver correctly decided awards as quickly as possible at low cost. Small cases, by their nature, have small budgets that can be maintained only with efficient management. The responsibility for managing the arbitration efficiently resides with the arbitrator, who must supervise the assembly, organization, and receipt of information needed to decide the dispute.
The first article in this series proposes a management tool that should facilitate the efficient collection and organization of material information about a dispute and assist the arbitrator in reaching a decision on both liability and damages. The tool is a damages accounting form in which the parties disclose, before the hearings begin, their positions on damages. The form is simple and easy to design. Its utility to the arbitrator should be immediately apparent.
Later articles will discuss other case management techniques, as well as special management issues involved in termination and delay damages cases. The techniques suggested in these articles work equally well in large, complex cases, but are not necessarily appropriate for exceptionally small, single issue, or Fast Track claims.