Construction Dispute Solicitors
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Construction contracts are renowned for their complexity. They have several aspects somewhat unique to the construction industry — including the number of parties involved and the lengthy duration of projects. Building disputes are common in the construction industry. Targeted professional advice and dispute resolution expertise are essential to protect your legal rights.
Construction law requires specialist solicitors who offer swift and practical advice at all stages of the process, from early contract negotiation — to dispute management and debt recovery when things go wrong.
Common Construction Disputes That We Can Help With
Even the most straightforward construction project can fall into a dispute. The construction industry is a specialist area, and certain types of disputes commonly arise.
Poorly Drafted Contracts
Unclear contract terms often cause confusion and, ultimately, argument. Poorly drafted construction contracts can go even further and remain silent on critical points.
- How to handle delays from subcontractors
- Defects in work
- Missed payments
Building projects often give rise to unique circumstances. Taking specialist legal advice from solicitors who understand the risks involved can often address common issues before they become disputes and create a contract that protects the client’s business interests.
Disputes Over Differing Site Conditions
Differing site conditions (DSC) are physical conditions which are materially different from those envisaged by the contract or anticipated when the contract was signed.
DSC may severely upset timelines and budgets — and can quickly escalate into a dispute.
A well-drafted construction contract will contain specific language that helps manage the situation when a DSC arises and is fair to both parties.
Lack Of Proper Risk Management
The more complex the project, the more extensive the risk management and risk allocation in the contract should be. The probability of an adverse occurrence and its impact should be defined in the contract following a thorough risk assessment and risk allocation process and sit alongside a comprehensive risk management plan and risk register.
Disputes Over Quality
The clauses in a construction contract should anticipate and support variations in the expected quality and the possibility of defective works. There should be leeway for unforeseen circumstances and provisions for unexpected delays and substandard work.
Disputes Over Payment Claims
Dispute resolution to manage payment claims — especially in multi-party construction projects — is one of the most frequently seen requests for construction dispute advice from specialist legal services.
Successful resolution of payment claims is far more likely when there is precise drafting at the contractual stage — complete with the provision of a timeline and payment milestones.
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How To Prevent a Construction Dispute
Construction disputes cannot always be prevented, but clear and strategic contract drafting at the point of negotiation can significantly reduce the likelihood of a conflict.
Crucially, a good construction contract will always anticipate the probability of disputes occurring and provide a mechanism for resolution so that the project can be salvaged and move on to completion.
How To Resolve a Construction Dispute
There are four key ways to resolve a construction dispute. The routes available and which is most expedient will depend upon the terms of the contract, how advanced the dispute is and what is most cost-effective.
A mediator is an independent third party called in to help resolve conflict in a building dispute. Mediation can be either evaluative or facilitative.
An evaluation invites the mediator to give their view of the likely outcome if the case ends up before the courts.
A facilitative mediator helps the disputing parties identify and define the issues as part of moving towards a resolution.
Mediation can result in a legally binding new written contract, but the parties are not obliged to agree to this. Mediation is usually quick, more amicable and can save money on legal fees.
Adjudication in construction is a quicker and less formal route to resolve building disputes and is often a preferred alternative to court proceedings. Adjudication is expedient in allowing work to continue and protecting cash flow.
The Construction Act encourages adjudication by granting any party to a construction contract (as defined by the Act) the right to adjudication. Even though not technically required, it is recommended that parties in a construction contract involved in building disputes should seek legal advice before starting adjudication.
Arbitration may be the next step if the contract has an arbitration clause. Arbitration occurs when the parties in dispute agree to bring in a third party to evaluate the case and award a resolution.
The arbitrator may be an individual who is either a lawyer or a specialist in the field. Sometimes, the case is reviewed by a panel.
An arbitrator’s decision can be legally binding and enforced by the court. Or the parties can choose a non-binding option which preserves the right to take the dispute to court despite the arbitrator’s conclusion.
Arbitration is usually cheaper and faster than litigation.
Construction litigation is a specialist area and can be a long-drawn-out process. However, it is regarded by many as the most just method for resolving a building dispute with the benefit of the best quality decision-making.
Judges have the power to compel parties to comply with timeframes and issue interim relief to protect businesses whilst the final judgment is awaited.
Who We Can Help
Helix Law are specialist solicitors who can help all parties involved in a construction project and offer a full range of legal services. These include strategic and targeted advice at the contract negotiation stage through to the different options of building dispute resolution and ultimately commercial litigation if legal action is the route of last resort.
Why Choose Helix Law?
We provide a full range of specialist construction legal services to developers, homeowners and contractors through their project journey, from the early stages of contract negotiation through to completion and final payment.
We offer strategic and swift expert advice every step of the way so you can obtain legal guidance quickly when you need it.
When things get complicated, we offer the reassurance of a dedicated construction dispute solicitor to manage your interests with cost-effective advice designed to protect your business and work towards the timely completion of the project.
Outstanding Reviews from Real Business People
People frequently tell us that we’re approachable and offer great advice.
They also tell us most solicitors are hard to get hold of whereas we’re happy to listen. The reason for this is that we value long term relationships and we’re happy to speak with business people, to invest our time in understanding your business and whatever your concerns are. Only at that point can we understand whether we’re the right people to help you.