Disputes and litigation in building and construction can range from a minor disagreement about a contractual clause all the way through to protracted litigation.
Batch Mewing approaches building and construction disputes with one prevailing principle in mind: achieving a good outcome. We want to see you back to business as usual as quickly as possible in any given circumstance.
Sometimes that’s achieved through careful negotiations, but sometimes the only way to achieve it is through litigation.
We’re as comfortable at the mediation table as we are in the courtroom.
Disputes between developers and contractors, or contractors and subcontractors, can take on many forms.
Often the starting place is this: what does the contract require, and what doesn’t the contract require?
A meaningful contract review can help solve some, but not all, of these problems before they arise.
After contract review, many contract disputes are avoided, or solved, through effective contract administration during the course of the project.
But if those don’t help, what happens next?
Did the scope of work require the installation of X, or Y? Was X a variation, or wasn’t it? Do we need to wait for the superintendent to do something, and what happens if they don’t? Where are the plans, who gave what to whom, and how are you going to reach a resolution before the project relationships dissolve completely?
These are the day to day questions of contract disputes.
Our job is to help you identify what was required, who was supposed to do it, and how to move forward with the project towards completion.
Defects and Delays
Whose fault is it? This is essentially the main question that defect and delay claims address. Who was supposed to do what, by when, and did they do it properly?
If you ended up building on volatile soil, who was supposed to know that in advance? Who was supposed to design around it? Most importantly, who should fix it?
If the painting is holding up handover of your project, then is it really the painter’s fault? Or is it because the plastering was finished late? Was the plastering finished late because the electrics took longer than expected? Did the electrical subcontractor have to delay commencement because the frame wasn’t complete? Was the frame delayed because of the weather, or because somebody double booked their team?
Defects and delays can often be a tangled web of information and finger-pointing.
We can help you find out where responsibility lies and how to deal with that appropriately under the contract terms and the law.
Can the developer really terminate the contract in these circumstances? Did they have to give you a chance to remedy issues? What if the issues weren’t your fault in the first place?
Early termination can cost parties huge amounts of money, in particular in jobs where the profit isn’t realised until the last few payment claims.
If you’re the terminating party, then are you sure you’re on good footing? If you exercise your step-in rights now and it’s found to be unlawful, is the size of that risk something you’re prepared for?
If you’re terminated, what are your remedies? Can you sue to finish the job, or stop the developer from engaging someone else? What happens if they spend all their project fund on other contractors and you’re left with a large outstanding account and bills to pay?
While the best remedy is often to prevent the termination in the first place, sometimes that simply can’t happen. We can help you navigate the termination minefield.
You know they’ve got the money, and they simply haven’t paid you.
They tell you that the cheque’s in the mail, but now you’re outside 90 days and you have staff to pay. Can you walk off? Should you walk off?
What happens if you don’t get paid and they go into administration or liquidation? What happens if you DO get paid and they go under anyway?
We can help you decide the best ways to get paid, protect your bottom line, and remain in business for years to come.
And Everything Else
There are many variations to these themes. When it comes to construction disputes no two matters are exactly the same. Different people, different jobs, different contracts, and different priorities will change the playing field dramatically.
Whatever your situation, if it’s a dispute and needs a resolution, then we can help you out.
For complex claims, Batch Mewing Lawyers works with its clients to develop claim or defence strategies, using the best options available to them.
Batch Mewing Lawyers helps its clients to consider all issues such as claim options under the security of payment legislation, construction litigation, arbitration, subcontractors’ charges, and the dispute process within the relevant construction contract, among others.
Batch Mewing Lawyers also considers broader commercial issues including the timing of the project, available resources, insurance, the risk of cashing of bank guarantees or bonds, risk of back-charges, etc.