Profile of Tony Bingham

WHY?

The reason for this PROFILE is to help you make some important decisions. For example, you may be trying to find a practising Arbitrator suitable for deciding a particular dispute. The whole idea of Arbitration is to select a person who is already familiar with both the nature of Arbitration and the type of disputes and differences which have arisen in your case. Look carefully at the Arbitrator's Profile. Is this person qualified in this instance?

The same goes for a brand new process in Construction Contracts, called Adjudication. You must consider carefully who might be best suited to decide this or that dispute.

It may be that you are a solicitor, consultant or client who is seeking specialist advice on a dispute. The Bar of England and Wales is a referral profession. Amongst its members are barristers who devote their practice to particular areas of law and particular areas of dispute resolution and techniques. Ask whether the Profile of a particular barrister 'fits' with the difficulty which has arisen in your case. Look then at the profile below. Does this person have the qualifications and experience which you require?

PROFILE

TONY BINGHAM is now an Arbitrator, Adjudicator, Mediator and Barrister. Each of those involves dispute management, decision making, and dispute resolution. As well as that, BINGHAM is a writer, commentator and lecturer. All that is what he does nowadays. It was not always so.

He became a lawyer at the same time as continuing a busy commercial career in the UK Construction Industry. Very early on he was an employee with a large and successful construction company. Later he joined a medium size builder. Overall this gave him experience in construction of new housing, then commercial and public works (office blocks, schools, utilities Work), in both building and civil engineering. His work involved the procurement of materials, the placing of subcontracts together with all the Quantity Surveying duties of every aspect of construction; right through to final account and all the difficulties ordinarily arising in that task. He even had that difficult job of measuring and negotiating with trade subcontractors. And true it is that he sometimes had the wool pulled over his eyes ... but not always.

No one should be surprised or shocked by the fact that in construction works disputes are inevitable. They are very, very ordinary. But, the important point is how they are managed and resolved. Soon Bingham decided that given Arbitration in construction is part and parcel of the job, he decided to study the topic. By 1982 he had become a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He very soon began to sit as an Arbitrator. Naturally enough the Arbitration appointments were almost always Building and Civil Engineering. He has been appointed Arbitrator on numerous occasions in the past 16 years. Sometimes the dispute has been unconnected with building which was a refreshing experience.

TONY BINGHAM holds himself out as an experienced Arbitrator in Building and Civil Engineering disputes. He has direct experience of management of construction projects, the management of subcontracts and has spent "real" time on site. In other words he has properly experienced building first hand. On top of that he did all the work you would expect of a construction quantity surveyor. There is no need to go into detail. That task is well known. It meant that from a very early age Bingham began to work with the Standard Form Contracts. Such documents as JCT 63, the ICE Form, the Blue and Green forms of subcontract, then all the new regime of JCT 1980, the Dom and NOM and NAM Forms.

By 1988 two important things had happened. First his own construction companies had become established and a modest success. Second, he was increasingly busy as an Arbitrator. So he sold his companies to his own management. That left the way open to expand his career in law. By 1992, he had been called to the Bar. All Barristers have to complete a pupillage. Bingham did this at 3 Paper Buildings, Temple, London. The same set invited him to become a full member of Chambers, he immediately accepted and has practised from "3PB" since.

His specialism at the Bar is of course Building and Civil Engineering. This is hardly surprising. Indeed his practice very quickly became established. His work in Court together with appearing as advocate in arbitration and commercial experience provides the experience for all those construction industry disputes and differences which so often arise.

The Arbitration work involves two other important contributions. For the past five years Bingham has been a visiting lecturer at Reading University, College of Estate Management. The topic is the Diploma in Arbitration. It is rewarding to be involved with a dedicated team of lecturers and enthusiastic mature students. The Reading course is about the best in the world ... and so too are the Diploma students who get through a gruelling course. Is it acceptable to say that by lecturing, the lecturer also learns .... and becomes a better practitioner because of that? Well it is true. Those five years has contributed very much to learning about the practice and procedure in Arbitration.

The other important contribution is that four years ago Bingham was invited to join a special team. Four practising arbitrators are responsible for assessing applicants for Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. This is a heavy weekend course. Upwards of 24people are critically examined in workshop sessions by the team of four. Few applicants 'fail'. Instead the team invites those who do not make the grade to withdraw or re-apply at some future time. The Special Fellowship Course is a subsidiary and demanding experience for the assessors too. Truth to tell, the assessor benefits very considerably from the experience.

While the construction industry is inclined towards arbitration much business is done via the Court. Most construction practitioners are familiar with the Technology and Construction Court in London and certain other city centres. The barrister quickly learns that the Official Referees demand an efficient and timely approach to the interlocutory stages in litigation. Those issues which do come to trial have the benefit of experienced specialist counsel and very experienced 'technical' Judges much at home with construction problems.

Brand new to construction contracts is something called "Adjudication". More on this later. Since February 1996 Bingham, with three colleagues, have been training new Adjudicators. This is in preparation for this new 28day dispute process. The training has been carried out for two organisations; the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Chartered Institute of Building. This is a new and interesting experience. Nobody really knows how new Adjudication will work in practice. Those training the new Adjudicators have highlighted the importance of applying the particular rules of the particular contract to decisions made about disputed facts. Adjudicators have been encouraged to get to the heart of the facts and law by innovative means. This is not litigation nor arbitration. It is a serious endeavour to establish rights under the contract and declare what those rights are. For better or for worse, that's the way we have pointed New Adjudicators .... and tested them too.

BINGHAM is also a Mediator. It is nowadays called ADR, since that is how it was introduced in 1990 from America. But we knew about the process and practised the process here in the UK well before then. Bingham did a very considerable amount of this Mediation work during the 1980's for a trade association. It was rewarding stuff. Many a dispute was stopped in its tracks .... and never got to arbitration or litigation by coaxing the parties to a solution irrespective of their legal rights under the contract. What 1990's ADR did was structure, even formalise the process. For some disputes that's good but not all.

BINGHAM'S page in "Building" has been an on going story of its own. It is in its fourteenth year. First it was monthly, then twice monthly; six years ago it became a weekly page. The magazine is all about construction. That includes cases and comments on building disputes. The legal commentators are very experienced men and women bringing a wide range of views .... which invite comment.

In 1999 he was invited to accept the visiting Professorship of the McBains Cooper Chair of Construction Law at the University of Ulster.

So, there is a very full profile. Is anything missing?
Just ask.

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