A new dispute management process for very large infrastructure projects has been launched in Singapore.

The protocol was launched by the Ministry of Law to help parties involved in mega infrastructure projects manage disputes, and minimize the risks of time and cost overruns. Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat announced the launch of the new protocol at Enterprise Singapore’s Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable as part of efforts to establish Singapore as the infrastructure hub of Asia.

It was developed by a working group of infrastructure and dispute resolution specialists and will operate with professional and administrative support from the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC).

The protocol has already attracted interest from parties keen to incorporate it into their projects, which are estimated to be worth S$500 million (US$361 million) or more, the ministry said.

Under the protocol a Dispute Board will be appointed at the start of a project comprising up to three neutral professionals who are experts in fields such as engineering, quantity surveying and law.

The Dispute Board will follow the project from start to finish and proactively help to manage issues that may arise, through a range of customized dispute avoidance and resolution processes.

Once disputes arise, the new protocol provides a wider range of dispute management methods including mediation, opinion and determination, helping the parties anticipate issues and preventing differences from escalating into full-blown disputes.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong said: “We are a trusted and neutral venue, and have over the years built up deep expertise, institutions, and human capital in dispute resolution. The new protocol builds on this strong foundation and leverages the suite of services that Singapore offers as a dispute resolution hub.”