Case study: A matter of recognition

Posted in Case Reports December 30, 2020

This is a dispute involving a new building project in an ASEAN country, between a local developer from that ASEAN country, and a foreign architectural firm.

The parties had entered into a contract for design and engineering services. However, the relationship soured. The developer terminated the contract, alleging various breaches, including issues with the design. This was contested by the architectural firm, which sought payment for work done. The dispute went on for several years, with the parties proceeding to arbitration. However, they agreed to first explore mediation.

Over a one-day mediation at SIMC, the parties arrived at an amicable settlement. The turning point came when it became clear that the dispute was not merely about financial compensation – there was an issue of professional recognition as well. As it turned out, the building project had won several design awards, but the architectural firm had not been acknowledged as their name had been removed from the project. As part of the settlement terms, the developer agreed to reinstate and recognise the architectural firm, including for future submissions for design competitions.  This gesture would have been difficult for any arbitration tribunal to compel.

While the mediation started out antagonistic between the parties, at the end of the mediation, the representatives were engaged in friendly conversation, putting them on the road to reconciliation.