Frequently Asked Questions

1) Why ADR?

A wealth of evidence and opinion shows that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is preferable to litigation for society, for the parties to the dispute, and for those directly affected by the dispute. Litigation lawyers often advise ADR and embark upon litigation reluctantly and with the knowledge that many files beginning in litigation are settled through ADR before a court rules. Almitra aims to take you into ADR as early as possible.

We all engage in informal ADR in our everyday life. Society would not work if all disputes required advocates and judges to resolve. The more experienced the parties with the choices, the more they are inclined to ADR.

2) Why Almitra?

Almitra is uniquely positioned to be the alternative to litigation when conflicts arise. Because of our background in four key areas, we know that under the right conditions we can be your bridge to lower your costs, save you time, assist each party in agreeing on what is fair, and preserve your reputation.

3) My builder or designer or the developer is not cooperating. What can I do?

Disputes often occur when service has been provided and monies are being withheld, or when monies have been paid, and (warranty) service is being withheld. The party seeking money or seeking service wants ADR, but the other party is unwilling to cooperate.

The Arbitration Act provides the mechanism for forcing the other party into arbitration (if required by your contract). In addition to providing ADR service, Almitra can offer assistance when you are dealing with an uncooperative party.

4) How does Errors and Omissions Insurance factor in?

Professional liability policies typically include a requirement to notify the insurer as soon as practicable of a claim, and a requirement to not admit responsibility. These clauses ensure the designer partners with the insurer at the early stages of a potential dispute, and

Almitra fully supports this early involvement. Insurers recognize the advantages of ADR and are expert at guiding their insureds through the process.

5) What is McPhail’s background in development and architecture?

Almitra provides Alternative Dispute Resolution for developers, architects, consulting engineers and builders in Canada. Of these roles, McPhail has the most experience with consulting engineering and with design-building. McPhail’s experience as developer’s representative is also quite extensive, although much of that experience is as a volunteer. McPhail has neither the qualifications nor the experience to claim expertise in architecture. Should disputes arise where the functional or aesthetic expertise of the architect is the core issue, Almitra is likely not the ADR consultant of choice. If the technical deliverables of the architect are at the core, Almitra may well be the right fit. Where architects integrate function and rely upon consulting engineers to deliver much of the technical support, Almitra has long been noted as a technical integrator with exceptional skill at ensuring that the technical solutions work.

6) Can Almitra serve the designer and the insurer at the same time?

Professional liability insurance is designed to maintain the closest possible relationship between the insured and the insurer from claim inception to resolution. It is rare that designers breach their contractual requirement to advise their insurer of a possible claim, and both parties typically work diligently at supporting each other throughout a claims action. The limited number of insurers active in providing coverage to architects and engineers all encourage early resolution of claims, and support Alternative Dispute Resolution. Almitra’s experience with claims avoidance, claims settlement, and especially with keeping the channels of communication and trust open make Almitra attractive to both the designer and the insurer. Sophisticated and fair minded developers understand the need to have their designers insured and also support bringing in a third party whose only interest is in encouraging settlement. Almitra is not conflicted about the shared goal to avoid litigation. We are not litigators and if ADR fails it means we fail.