You might think of construction disputes as lawyers arguing over some nuanced point of law. However, most of the time what is critical to success is not a legal issue but instead is persuading the Tribunal which of the alternative "facts" presented by the parties are in fact true.  And so at every training session we run on construction disputes we stress that good objective evidence is the key to preventing and resolving disputes.  

Witness statements can help but, as the Courts recently reminded us, they will "place limited weight on witnesses' recollections of what was said in meetings and conversations, and to base factual findings in respect of such matters on inferences drawn from the documentary evidence and known or provable facts".    

So how do you get that objective evidence?  Project reports and meeting minutes are usually created by individuals and as such are 'subjective' rather than 'objective'.  Also errors can creep in: the paragraph from last month's minutes that was left in by mistake or dates not updated.  Those errors have to be explained to the Tribunal and make the Tribunal question the accuracy of the evidence. 

The project manager may have a plethora of digital photographs taken at monthly inspections but they won't cover every angle and the one critical area for a future dispute may be just out of shot.  

Also nothing is done with the data that is collected.  The photos sit in an archive folder and will probably only be looked at in the event of a dispute.

However, rapid advances in technology, and in particular AI, are changing the picture.  

One example of this technology in use is on the construction of the new Royal Bournemouth Hospital by Integrated Health Projects (IHP), a joint venture between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine.

They are using Helmet mounted 360 degree cameras to capture data using technology from Buildots, which uses AI technology to generate accurate progress reports supported by undisputable objective data. 

Not only does this help provide objective evidence to stop disputes arising or help their rapid resolution but active use of the data for project planning and management helps keep projects on track and picks up issues earlier on.

On the flip side, the increase in the amount of data being captured on projects is resulting in lawyers also turning to AI to help them manage that data and identify the relevant evidence.  

So maybe the future of construction disputes will be entirely AI driven.  Can I have an extension of time?  Sorry the computer says no.