Major projects require specialist advice from the start, during delivery, and through to final claim.
A major project has a lot of moving parts. They need a lot of coordination and advice from many different parties.
You need solid, commercial advice right from the get go. That includes a legal team that you are confident can assist you to deliver the entire project. One that won’t lose the plot once you’re hit with a novel situation.
We have broad experience in all aspects of major projects.
You’ve heard it before: proper planning prevents poor performance.
Maximise your profits and minimise your risks – this is what most of our clients want. From a legal perspective, they can control their commercial risks when preparing contracts, negotiating terms and signing on the dotted line.
More attention at these early stages can avoid potential disasters before they occur. Or, at least, sharpen your attention towards the potential hurdles that may arise during the project.
Contract Suites and Project Templates
Major projects don’t normally just need a contract – they need a bundle of contracts that integrate tightly with each other to ensure that all aspects of the projects are delivered well, both upstream and downstream.
That might include head contracts, sub-contracts, supply contracts, novation agreements, hire agreements, security arrangements, financial documentation and more.
It could also mean ensuring that you’ve got usable templates for variations, EOT claims or dispute notices so you’re not reinventing the wheel each time.
Commercial negotiations often focus on big ticket items like liability caps, delivery timeframes and payment terms.
However, many contracts don’t become unprofitable because of these larger items but as a result of a series of smaller, less obvious, traps in the contracts.
That might include the timing for delivery of formal notices, the nature of liquidated damages, or strange drafting around design liability. Often, if caught earlier, these terms could have been relaxed in negotiations.
We can assist with the legal aspects of your contract negotiations, while remaining conscious of the commercial realities of major projects.
A contract roadmap can help your key personnel understand the core components of the contract.
A good contract review will provide a meaningful summary of any clauses, timeframes or documentation that you should pay close attention to. It will ultimately help you deliver your contract more efficiently, with less risk.
To get paid the right amount at the right time, ensure that you’ve got your processes up and running for payment claims, variations, dispute notices and any other formalities.
Once you’ve secured your major project you need to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible – which usually means expecting the unexpected.
Having an open dialogue with lawyers throughout the delivery phase of your contract is often an investment in risk management that can pay significant dividends down the track.
A catch up with your legal team during the project delivery phase can help to red-flag issues, work through concerns, map a strategy for payment, and ensure that you have your ducks lined up should you need to take a shot at some point.
Strong contract administration will be the platform for managing risk and getting paid.
Contractors should continually invest in improving their contract administration processes.
A diligent approach to contract administration ensures that your claims are compelling and supported by evidence, disputes are resolved more quickly, and legal loopholes or time bars aren’t available to be used against you when you’re trying to get paid.
Have notices been sent on time? Are they in a compliant form? Have the dispute resolution procedures been followed? Are the site diaries accurate and complete? Are variations approved appropriately?
Having systems in place for your project that deliver good contract administration will pave the way for a better, more profitable job all around.
Although we’d all prefer it if major projects sailed through without problems, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes you need to flex a bit of muscle to get paid fairly for the work you’ve done.
Achieving this starts with good contract administration. But after that, it can require a little more oomph to actually get your payment claims dealt with in a timely fashion, to cut through the many layers of stalling tactics that come up as projects near completion, persuade your client what they owe you, and why they should pay you what you’re due .
Strategic project advice
Batch Mewing advised an infrastructure contractor on disputes arising from defective pipework and the use of a tunnel boring machine, in respect of $35M works contract.
Matter involved detailed consideration of claims upstream to principal and defending downstream claims by the pipe supplier.
Batch Mewing considered the complex terms in both the supply contract and the design and construct contract, including in relation to the design liability, variation, extension of time, security and set-off rights.
Most contracts on major projects contain dispute resolution clauses requiring the parties to set out their issues and try to resolve them before taking formal legal steps.
Approached in the right way, these procedures can result in genuinely meaningful discussions, issue identification and collaborative approaches to solving the problem.
Of course, unfortunately, they can also be used as a stalling tactic and simply be a big waste of time too.
More often than not, in a large project taking into account long-term commercial reality, it’s going to be better to solve the issues with your principal than it is to end up in a protracted legal battle. This is where effective use of the dispute resolution processes comes into play.
Strategic advice, dispute management, and expert management on complex rail upgrade project
Batch Mewing advised a major contractor on disputes with a Principal arising from a $40M rail upgrade project. Issues in dispute included design liability, variations and the enforceability of a liquidated damages clause.
Batch Mewing also provided strategic dispute strategy and negotiation advice to the client, with a view to achieving an early resolution of the matter whilst preserving the business relationship between the client and the client’s Principal.
Formal Dispute Resolution
While it varies from state to state, Security of Payment legislation has become a go-to mechanism for many contractors to get paid their entitlements when due.
The process is often cost-effective, fast (relatively speaking) and can ensure that your cash-flow is not significantly disrupted while you are trying to deliver your project.
However, security of payment is not always the best solution in every situation. Sometimes an adjudication can affect relationships with your principal, distract from the project, and some claims on major projects might just be too complicated for the adjudication process.
Choosing whether to bring an adjudication application, and when to do it, are important parts of your overall strategy.
In other cases, it might be better to avoid Court, it’s not always possible. And when the proverbial hits the fan, you need lawyers who are going to give you good, honest advice and robust support from the start of a dispute through to its conclusion.
Sometimes that means we need to put the gloves on and step into the ring.
Sometimes that means we need to calmly work towards a resolution.
But it always means that we take into account your commercial and business needs every step of the way.
We’re your Go-To lawyers for Major Projects and Infrastructure
As you can see, our legal team can help you through all the aspects of your next major job, from inception to completion.
We can help you negotiate your contracts, draft your document suites, spot critical terms and conditions, and administer your contracts to completion. When needed, we can also back you in dispute resolution or litigation processes to bring about a commercially guided result.
When your next project is in the pipeline – give us a call.