Construction disputes are often complex and high value, with the potential to become confusing and frustrating. As well as holding up progress and costing you a lot of money, construction disputes can cause damage to your property, your business relationships, and your reputation.
Tensions between clients, project owners, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers can create a toxic atmosphere. For construction businesses, this can make it difficult to secure future contracts or negotiate favourable terms. Moreover, a reputation for being embroiled in construction disputes can deter potential clients from engaging with a company, causing long-term damage to its standing in the industry.
If you are facing a construction dispute, it can be tricky to establish your legal rights and obligations, leaving you unsure how to resolve the situation. The good news is that proactive dispute resolution, guided by experienced commercial litigators, can see most construction disputes resolved quickly, amicably, and cost-effectively.
Do you require advice from construction dispute lawyers?
Our construction dispute lawyers are backed with all the legal aptitude and commercial awareness to resolve your construction disputes. With a strong track record of success, we regularly achieve positive outcomes for our clients without the need for expensive and time-consuming court proceedings.
Here are some reasons why you should trust our highly experienced construction dispute lawyers.
- Flexible funding. We provide an affordable service with various flexible payment options.
- Litigation experts. As a partner-led firm, we guarantee you will benefit from the involvement of an experienced construction dispute solicitor.
- Unrivalled experience. Our construction litigation solicitors can help to resolve a wide range of construction disputes, and we know what it takes to reach a successful conclusion.
- Trustworthy advice. Our straightforward, pragmatic advice is tailored to you, your situation, and your objectives. This ensures you get the best result possible.
For your free initial consultation, contact our construction dispute lawyers today by calling 020 7467 3980 or simply complete our website enquiry form.
Types of construction disputes
Our expert construction dispute lawyers take a practical, business-minded approach to solving your legal problems. We work closely with you to understand your priorities and overall goals, then offer carefully tailored strategies to get you the outcome you need.
Offering a nationwide service, we provide tailored advice on a whole range of construction disputes, helping developers, project owners, funders, architects, engineers, contractors, sub-contractors, and consultants.
Here are just some of the construction disputes we can support you with:
- Construction contract disputes
- Payment disputes
- Disputes over construction delays & unfinished works
- Contractor & employer disputes
- Construction industry regulatory disputes
- Disputes over allegedly defective works & the requirement for remedial work
- Professional negligence claims against architects, surveyors & other construction professionals
The most common construction disputes
In a dynamic and often challenging environment, construction disputes are an all-too-common occurrence. With different parties and complex contractual terms in the mix, even a simple dispute can escalate to disrupt projects, strain budgets, and sour business relationships.
With various stakeholders in the mix, the consequences of a construction dispute can have multifaceted repercussions that extend beyond the initial disagreeing parties. But understanding some of the most common construction disputes in the industry can help to avoid potential pitfalls.
Disputes about late, under, or non-payment are some of the most prevalent in the construction industry. Such disputes can cause financial strain on all the parties involved and result in project delays or even work stoppages.
Often, payment is not made when one party does not feel the other has met their contractual obligations, but without proper legal advice, non-payment could breach the terms of a construction contract. To minimise disruption and ensure you are not liable for compensation, it is vital to resolve non-payment or underpayment disputes as quickly as possible.
2. Poor quality workmanship
Poor quality workmanship is another frequent source of contention in the construction industry. Such disputes most commonly arise when one party believes that the quality of work delivered does not meet the agreed-upon standard.
Often, the other party may believe that the client has unreasonable expectations. Construction disputes regarding craftsmanship and/or materials should be addressed as soon as possible to stop costs from escalating.
3. Change of finish date
Due to the nature of the construction industry and the multitude of parties involved, delays due to unforeseen circumstances or disruptions are not uncommon. The weather, availability of materials and labour, and even global events like COVID-19 can have a significant impact on a project schedule and budget.
4. Mistakes in design
Design mistakes can be hugely frustrating for everyone involved. And finding out who is the cause of the error – and therefore liable for rectification and the associated costs – is not always straightforward.
From inaccuracies in blueprints to the wrong measurements and poor communication between parties, design mistakes often require a thorough examination of the design and planning documents to evaluate what went wrong and how to put it right with minimal disruption and financial impact.
5. Poorly drafted contracts
When dealing with a construction dispute, it is important to promptly establish the facts of the matter and your legal position.
But what if the contract doesn’t tell you what you need to know? Poorly drafted contracts are one of the leading causes of construction disputes. With ambiguous language, incomplete or contradictory clauses, and a failure to address crucial issues leading to uncertainty about responsibilities, expectations, and standards.
Regardless of whether your contracts are well-drafted or not, our construction dispute lawyers will swiftly review your position and provide clear guidance on your legal rights and obligations, so you have all the information you need to decide on your next steps.
How to resolve construction disputes
When disputes emerge, parties may find themselves locked in protracted legal battles, incurring significant financial and time costs. But with the right legal advice and representation, it is possible to resolve construction disputes with minimum fuss.
Establish your legal position
Most construction disputes require expert help to resolve. As such, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. One of the first things your lawyer will do when looking at how to resolve your construction dispute is to establish your legal position. And, while each case is different, typically this would involve:
- Carefully reviewing the construction contract to establish its terms, conditions, obligations, and any relevant clauses
- Reviewing additional evidence in the form of correspondence, emails, invoices, receipts, plans etc.
- Establishing your obligations under the contract and determining whether you have fulfilled these
- Identifying any breaches of contract committed by the other party
- Assessing any damages suffered as a result of the contract breach.
Once we have considered your situation, we will provide legal analysis, guidance, and options for resolution.
Engage in early negotiations
It is important to clearly lay out your legal position and let the other side know what you want. In many cases, agreement can be reached at an early stage, saving everyone time, money, and hassle.
Typically, we will draft a robust ‘letter before action’, explaining the facts of the dispute, any relevant legislation, and how you want the matter resolved. Our team will then support you during any subsequent negotiations to agree a solution. Where possible, we always advise attempting to resolve the dispute amicably through negotiations. This can be as simple as a meeting between the parties.
Use alternative dispute resolution
Where negotiation requires more work, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may help. Our construction dispute solicitors are highly experienced in using ADR, even in complex and high-value cases. So we help you to avoid court.
Reaching an amicable solution in this way can save everyone time and money, as well as allowing you to preserve important business relationships. However, you will need to consider whether there are terms within the construction contract which govern which method of alternative dispute resolution is applicable.
Mediation can help both parties achieve a suitable resolution when a construction dispute is not quickly resolved. Minimising the emotional and financial effects, with mediation, both parties attempt to resolve the dispute with the help of an impartial mediator. While any agreements reached via mediation are not compulsory, the decision can be made legally binding if agreed.
Most construction disputes can be resolved via adjudication. Adjudication sees an independent adjudicator make an interim-binding decision within 28 days. Adjudication is especially useful in the industry as it can quickly resolve any issues regarding non-payment, delays, extensions of time, defects, etc.
Often if a matter has already been through the adjudication process, the successful party will enforce the decision through the Technology and Construction Court, as the decisions are rarely challenged by the losing party.
Purse your dispute through the courts
Where negotiations fail, or an out-of-court agreement is unlikely to be possible, court proceedings may be the only way to achieve the outcome you need.
Our construction dispute solicitors will always be upfront about the likelihood of success in court and the costs involved, so you can make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.
Rest assured that, should court or other action be required, our construction litigation lawyers are backed with all requisite experience and resources to successfully support you at every stage.
Construction dispute FAQs
A construction contract is defined under section 104 of the Construction Act 1996. In short, it is an agreement with a person for:
- The carrying out of construction operations (either by one of the parties or a subcontractor)
- Providing labour (either a party’s own labour or that of another party) for the carrying out of construction operations.
As well as agreements between construction professionals and end-clients, a construction contract can also be made between different construction businesses.
There are several ways to resolve construction disputes. These include:
- Avoidance (e.g. through properly drafted contracts)
- Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
Yes. If you have appointed a contractor to do a job, and they have not completed the work to a professional standard you may be able to make a claim against them.
To do this, you will have to prove that you have suffered a loss as a result of the contractor’s failure (e.g. a decrease in property value, having to pay someone else to remedy the situation, etc.). At Summit Law, we can help you make a claim for the return of your money and for compensation for the loss you have suffered.
There are several proactive steps you can take to avoid construction disputes, including:
- Having well-defined and comprehensive contracts in place before starting the project
- Making sure all parties understand and agree to the contract terms
- Including clear dispute resolution clauses in contracts that specify the method for resolving disputes
- Establishing clear and agreed-upon payment schedules
- Maintaining open and transparent communication
- Having regular meetings/updates to help identify and address issues early
- Keeping detailed records of all project-related communications, decisions, and changes
- Implementing a robust quality control and inspection process to ensure work meets specified standards and that any deficiencies are identified and corrected promptly.
Yes. You may be able to sue your architect if they have breached their professional obligations (professional negligence) or contractual agreements (breach of contract). Whether or not you have a valid claim will depend on the specifics of your situation and the terms of your contract.
Reasons to choose our construction dispute lawyer
We take a practical approach to solving your legal disputes. Our expert property litigation lawyers work closely with you to understand your priorities and overall goals, then offer carefully tailored strategies to get you the outcome you need.
Through timely intervention and pragmatic advice, we aim to resolve your dispute as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, without compromising on the outcome you need.
We are entirely upfront about your chances of success and only recommend court action where we believe this is truly in your best interests. We make sure you do not waste time, money and effort on legal proceedings that are unlikely to achieve a positive outcome for you.
At Summit Law, our construction dispute team is highly skilled in ADR. This means we can often secure a positive outcome without having to go to court.
Unrivalled client care
Summit Law LLP is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for the high standards of our legal practice and our commitment to client care.
Contact our construction dispute lawyers today
If you’re facing a construction dispute – whether commercial or residential – then contact our experienced litigation lawyers today by calling 020 7467 3980 or simply complete our online enquiry form.
Providing clear advice in plain English, we make sure you understand exactly where you stand and what is needed to get the outcome you need in a way that matches your priorities.
In addition to resolving your legal problems quickly and cost-effectively, our considered and sensitive approach stops them from escalating. Getting to know you and your legal needs, our service is tailored to you and the complexity of your case. And because we know how stressful the process can be, we remove the burden from your shoulders with minimal disruption.