Chapter 21 - § 21.7 • DISPUTE REVIEW BOARDS


A dispute review board (DRB) is defined by the AAA as "[t]hree neutral individuals mutually selected by the Owner and Contractor to consider and recommend resolution of Disputes referred to it."421 The definition properly emphasizes how broad the potential powers, duties, and responsibilities of a dispute review board are, and that they are to be defined and agreed to by the parties.

Very generally, however, a dispute review board is appointed and begins functioning at the commencement of the work on the construction project. One of the first steps is to agree upon a DRB operating agreement, defining the procedures of the DRB to implement the original agreement between the parties. Next, the DRB becomes familiar with the work and meets periodically with the contractor and owner to discuss progress on the project, and particularly any potential issues, problems, or disputes that are foreseen, with the anticipation of working with the parties to avoid the problems.

If disputes arise, according to the procedures agreed to by the parties, a hearing is held. Generally, this hearing is somewhat informal in nature, but the parties are given the opportunity to present documents and facts, and to explain their procedures. Again, the procedures are defined by agreement.

The DRB typically renders a written recommendation/decision for resolution of the dispute, together with the board's reasoning and analysis. Typically, the parties are free to reject the...

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