Construction Disputes

Construction disputes involve disputes about construction works, in contrast to say property disputes, which are principally disputes over rights in / over property (e.g. ownership and rights of way).

Construction disputes usually involve breaches of one or more contracts. Often the remedy is in monetary damages by way of compensation. Construction projects are set up around multiple contracts, either in standard form or as bespoke agreements. They can range from detailed building contracts to short form Terms & Conditions.

Common types of construction disputes involve allegations that works are defective, have not been done, are in delay, have been incorrectly valued or unlawfully suspended. It is often the case that expert evidence is needed in order to support or counter a claim made, because the core issues are frequently expert ones.

Delay disputes usually mean that the contractually agreed date for completion of the works is going to be or has been missed. Depending on whose fault that is, the agreed date is either adjusted (moved forward) or it remains as it is, and either the party whose works are in issue is penalised in damages, or it is not and it may be compensated for its costs incurred in completing the works late.  The term critical path is often heard in delay disputes. The critical path is the sequence of works activities across the project that alone impacts on the completion date of the works and that path can be shown on a programme.

Construction disputes can be extremely complex not least because construction projects themselves can be complex. There is a specialist court that deals with such disputes called the Technology & Construction Court (TCC). However, construction disputes are often dealt with instead by way of Adjudication, a rapid 28 day process.

Construction disputes routinely involve more than 2 parties. That reflects the fact that construction projects involve a long supply chain of works, services and materials, with 1 party’s role in that chain impacting on and being impacted by a number of other parties.

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