Sadly it is easy for those working in the construction industry to become involved in costly and time consuming disputes. We are able to advise clients on ways in which they may be able to avoid disputes, and we can also advise where a dispute has arisen.
We can often assist in guarding against disputes by assisting the client in reviewing draft contract documents before these are entered into. There is a wide range of complex standard form contract documents in regular use throughout the industry, and it is quite common for contract documents to contain errors, unfavourable amendments and even to be incompatible with other documents for the same project.
Investing a little money at the outset to rectify problems of that sort can pay handsome dividends later on. The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 gives parties to a construction or engineering contract the right to resolve any disputes by adjudication. Adjudication is a special procedure, similar in some ways to an arbitration, but conducted much more quickly.
An adjudicator is appointed to determine the dispute and is normally expected to produce a decision within 28 days. It is critical in adjudications that written submissions in support of your case are prepared thoroughly, and if you are the party starting the adjudication then this should be prepared well in advance.
We can assist you by conducting the adjudication and by working with other appropriate professionals such as architects, quantity surveyors and structural engineers. In appropriate cases we can also bring or defend proceedings before the Courts, including the Technology and Construction Court which is a specialist section of the High Court.
Where the parties have a valid arbitration clause in their contract, we can also bring or defend arbitration proceedings. Arbitration is a type of private Court proceedings, where the parties appoint their own judge (the arbitrator) who then regulates the procedure and gives each party a timetable for making his legal submissions.
Arbitration is not necessarily any cheaper than Court proceedings, but it has the advantage of being private and in many cases being rather quicker than what the Courts can deliver. Our team has experience in advising employers, contractors, subcontractors and other construction professionals.