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  • 24 Nov 2021

    Construction Litigation: Avoiding Disputes as a Contractor or Client

    It is all too common that a dispute arises from a supposed or actual breach of contract, either by the client or contractor. Disputes can often be prevented by effective communication, awareness, and reasonable mitigation of the risks associated with the project before commencement.

    Project Timing

    Although not always avoidable, delays to completion are often a root cause of a dispute between contractor and client. Thorough discussion of a timeline and possible delay before commencement and the keeping of daily reports onsite are effective methods of minimising avoidable delay, the fault of which is often stuck on the contractor even in unforeseen circumstances.

    Non/Partial Payment

    Contractors can sue for owed amounts if clients do not fulfil contractual obligations to pay for works as agreed. A payment schedule should be agreed upon before the commencement of works, and a final cost written into the contract as far as possible. Disputes over partial payment because of poor workman quality can be difficult to settle- it is imperative that construction is to the required quality to maintain the value of works.

    Quality of Works

    Disputes over partial or non-payment because of poor workman quality can be difficult to settle, therefore it is imperative that construction is to the required quality to maintain the value of work. Critical specifics including type and cost of material should be agreed upon in person beforehand and adhered to throughout the project. Where a dispute has already arisen, there are a plethora of effective measures more cost-effective than litigation which can settle breach of contract claims:

    Construction Arbitration

    Both parties agree to submit the case to a qualified mediator, who is accorded the right and power to make a legally binding decision, though without the involvement of the courts. Both parties are given greater determination to govern the parameters of the dispute resolution than traditional litigation.

    Construction Mediation

    The appointed mediator has no power to enforce a verdict but encourages a mutually agreed outcome which is most often a compromise settlement. Mediation is almost always much more cost-effective that litigation and potentially allows for the contractor-client partnership to be restored by frank and moderated discussion.  

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