Building & Construction Disputes
Building, construction and engineering projects are usually complex. They often involve numerous different parties including: contractors, sub-contractors, construction and engineering professionals (including architects, civil and structural engineers, project managers, mechanical and electrical engineers, surveyors, health and safety professionals, landscape architects), suppliers and many others.
There can also be many parties who have an interest in the outcome of such projects, such as banks or other funders, owners, purchasers and tenants.
The length of projects can range from a few weeks to many years; plus projects can cost from a few thousand pounds to billions of pounds.
Aside from the technical challenges of the projects themselves, there are also common issues that frequently arise on such projects. These often centre around payment issues, delays and defects; and defects may be in the standard of work carried out, in the quality of materials, or in the design of the project. Some or all of these issues may arise at the same time. A project - that started off with everyone pulling together - can break down and the trust between the parties rapidly vanish with the various parties searching the contract terms to reinforce their positions.
In dispute situations we work to simplify any complexity and help you get the best result. We put you in control of your dispute or your project by identifying your objectives, what your options are and how you can reach your objectives in the quickest and most cost-effective way.
Experience demonstrates that the earlier our construction team is involved, the better the outcome for clients. By involving us from the outset in setting up the contractual structure of the project (before you make any key appointments - such as those of your architect, structural engineer, project manager or contractor) we can potentially save you from thousands to millions of pounds later on by helping you to avoid what may be costly gaps in your contracts.
We encourage our clients to think of us, and engage us, as an integral part of their construction team of professionals right from the outset; even when just considering a project. We are there to give expert professional advice on your contracts and the law; leaving others to put together specifications, designs and bills of quantities in accordance with their own professional specialisms. Early legal involvement often saves significant sums of money later on in a project. If you are a contractor or sub-contractor, the same applies: get us involved early on because once contracts are signed you will be bound by their terms.
The key benefits of early instruction
Instructing us at an early point when putting your project together has the following benefits:
- It helps to avoid disastrous limitation clauses being included in your contracts, which otherwise may result in the other party avoiding payment of your full potential losses.
- It helps to avoid expensive defects, delay or payment disputes - as far as possible - by having clear terms in your contracts setting out the matters for which each party is responsible.
- It ensures that where a bank or other funder is involved (or might be involved) that you have contractual structures and terms in place with all the parties which reduce the risk that you will be required to attempt to renegotiate them later on at your expense, even where such renegotiation is possible.
- It ensures that your contracts contain suitable terms for the form of construction procurement you have decided upon (design and build, traditional contracting, construction management etc.); and that obligations you may have to others are reflected in the relevant terms, as far as possible.
- It ensures that effective remedies are available if things go wrong.
- It ensures that your contracts reflect current legislation.
In relation to potential disputes, instructing us early has the following potential benefits:
- It ensures that you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position; enabling you to take correct decisions as to the best way forward, before a dispute escalates and expense or delay increases.
- It ensures that notices are served in accordance with the relevant contract and on time, avoiding further escalation of the dispute or costly mistakes.
- We can advise on the most effective way of resolving the dispute, whether by negotiation, mediation, expert determination, adjudication, arbitration or court proceedings; including discussing the advantages/disadvantages, timescales and potential costs of each approach.
Our contracts and disputes services include:
- Drafting and advising on construction contracts and sub-contracts (whether bespoke one-off contracts, or standard form contracts such as JCT, NEC, FIDIC or other forms) and providing suitable amendments to the standard terms.
- Drafting and advising on related and ancillary documentation such as construction professional team appointments (such as those of architects, civil and structural engineers, project managers, mechanical and electrical engineers, surveyors, health and safety professionals, landscape architects etc.), letters of intent, collateral warranties, performance bonds, parent company guarantees and vesting agreements.
- Assisting you to resolve potential disputes before they escalate, including service of contractual notices and by negotiation or mediation.
- Acting on your behalf in relation to adjudication, arbitration and court proceedings.
Extensive expertise in the building, construction and engineering sector
LCF Law’s team has significant experience in advising businesses and individuals involved in construction and engineering contracts and disputes. Members of our team have acted for banks and other funders regarding development finance; property owners and developers; national retail, restaurant and cinema chains; construction professionals, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers over many years and across a wide range of sectors (commercial and residential), in relation to disputes and projects ranging from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of millions of pounds.
LCF Law’s Construction Team is regularly instructed by businesses and individuals to advise on the contractual structure of projects and to resolve potential disputes in the most cost effective way.
And finally, we understand your situation and we’re great listeners. We call it legal efficiency. No hidden costs. No jargon.
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