Application of ADR mechanism can help resolve disputes in Real Estate and Construction Sectors, experts opine in a webinar organised by BIAC and SIAC

A webinar held on virtual platform on 21 October 2020 on “Challenges of Application of Institutional ADR in Real Estate and Construction Disputes in Bangladesh” was organised jointly by Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC) and its partner organisation Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).

BIAC is Bangladesh’s first and only registered Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service provider organisation which facilitates resolution of domestic and international commercial disputes through arbitration and mediation under its own Rules of Arbitration and Mediation. SIAC is an international arbitration organisation based in Singapore, which administers arbitration under its own Rules of Arbitration and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.

Participating in the webinar experts stressed on the advantages of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a dispute resolution tool in the real estate and construction sectors in Bangladesh. The webinar focussed on how ADR methods can, at this difficult time in the wake of COVId-19 can help resolve commercial disputes in these development sectors in the most pragmatic, expeditious and cost effective manner. Seven outstanding Panelist Discussants took part in the deliberations and viewed the issues of challenges of application of institutional ADR in real estate and construction disputes in Bangladesh with reference to the experiences in Singapore and India.

Addressing the webinar Chief Executive Officer of BIAC Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali stressed on the need of facilitating neutral process of dispute resolution and opined that COVID-19 has pointed out the significance of availing institutional ADR. He said that owing to absence of any dispute resolution clause in real estate and construction contracts, parties cannot reach a settlement unless all stakeholders cooperate with one another. He said that costs multiply if disputes cannot be resolved early. Ali offered BIAC’s services to resolve commercial disputes in these sectors under its Rules which can save money and time of the parties.

In her welcome address, Lim Seok Hui, Chief Executive Officer of Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) expressed satisfaction over BIAC’s endeavours in developing international arbitration framework. She said that international arbitration is order of the day to resolve cross border disputes in real estate and construction sectors. In the most neutral, efficient and cost effective manner even during the ongoing crisis of COVID-19, institutional arbitration can take lead over all other tools of dispute resolution, she opined. Lim gave an account of SIAC’s recent achievements in these areas as world’s 3rd topmost ADR institution.

F R Khan, Managing Director, Building technology & ideas ltd spoke on the occasion and emphasised adhering to ADR tools like negotiation, mediation and arbitration before going to court for resolving disputes in real estate entities. He lauded BIAC’s excellent facilities for facilitating ADR and working hard to change mindset of stakeholders in this regard. In the power sector, Khan said that SIAC is a seat of arbitration and we can use BIAC also as a seat for international arbitration.

Business leaders, experts from the legal fraternity, corporate houses, academicians, accredited Mediators and ADR specialists of high eminence from home and abroad participated in the largely attended webinar through Zoom. The webinar was moderated by Barrister Ali Asif Khan, Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court and Partner of Hossain & Khan Associates.

Tejas Karia, Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration and Partner & Head of Arbitration of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. spoke on the occasion and maintained that parties from different jurisdictions do not tend to submit before courts of each other, so ADR is the alternative to resolve development sector disputes.

Taking part in the discussion Anis A. Khan, Vice President, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dhaka who is a former Chairman of the Association of Bankers Bangladesh narrated his experience as a banker to accommodate parties in contracts in real estate and construction sectors. He said that unregistered tripartite agreement leads to disputes. Mediation and arbitration are the most effective means of resolving such disputes for which specialised setup as established by BIAC is highly commendable.

Shwetha Bidhuri, Head (South Asia) of SIAC viewed the issue from the Indian perspective and gave an insight on institutional ADR in real estate and construction sectors. She opined that multiple parties’ interests can be addressed by drafting an appropriate contract, which is possible by an institutional framework and can provide resolution of disputes in a cheaper manner. She emphasised on joint efforts by SIAC and BIAC to identify and help resolve disputes between the adversaries.

Taking part in the deliberations Barrister Narita Navin Khan, Divisional Head, Corporate & Finance Division, Rahman’s Chambers, Dhaka explained provisions of ADR in Bangladesh laws and maintained that ignorance of law prompt parties to move to a lengthy court procedure at the first instance. She referred to BIAC’s Panel of Arbitrators and requested inclusion of engineers and experts from other development sectors in the Panel for handling of arbitrations at BIAC on a wider range.

Speaking on the occasion Piyush Prasad, Counsel of SIAC gave an overview of SIAC’s Rules of international arbitration with details of SIAC’s priorities and shared his experience of working from Singapore on international arbitration.

Mahbuba Rahman, General Manager of BIAC took part in the discussion and said that provision of pre-trial mediation between the parties by the Real Estate & Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) is not pragmatic and she insisted on Institutional ADR. Mahbuba also shared her experience of attending programmes by Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC), Kuala Lumpur. She mentioned that BIAC has signed an agreement to work together with Kunming International Commercial Arbitration Service Center (KICASC), China for promotion of ADR.

The Daily Bonik Barta was the media partner of the event.