We provide timely, efficient and strategic advice on how to manage the dispute and achieve your desired outcomes.
- Identify, manage and minimise risk for your construction business
- Implement strategies to improve your project and position
- Receive fast, cost-effective options and practical solutions from our highly experienced lawyers
HHG Legal Group’s construction lawyers help WA civil and construction contractors bridge the gap between:
- Fixed and unchanging civil and construction contracts that set everything in stone: one scope, one price, one programme; and
- Dynamic civil and construction work sites where contractors’ works are constantly varied, disrupted, delayed, re-sequenced and accelerated in response to rapidly changing circumstances.
HHG’s construction lawyers help civil and construction contractors in Western Australia to bridge that gap in three main ways:
- By advising on and negotiating and drafting amendments to, civil and construction contracts;
- By helping civil and construction contractors to administer the payment, reporting and variation regimes in their contracts during the course of their works; and
- By advising and representing construction contractors when disputes arise.
Whilst the need for a construction lawyer to help with interpreting and drafting civil and construction contracts and with managing disputes involving civil and construction contractors, it is often not understood why construction lawyers need to be involved in administering civil and construction contracts.
The answer to this question brings us back to the idea of fixed and unchanging contracts being mismatched with the realities that civil and construction contractors face day to day on highly dynamic work sites. When things change on site, this mismatch almost always has the following adverse outcomes for civil and construction contractors:
- When a civil or construction contractor’s scope of work changes, as it does, frequently, on almost every civil and construction works project, the contractor ends up doing extra work Without being paid for it; and
- When a civil or construction contractor’s works are disrupted, as they are, frequently, on almost every civil and construction project, the contractor’s works end up running over time and the contractor becomes liable to pay compensation for the delay, to the party that engaged them to carry out their works.
Contractors face these consequences day in and day out, even where:
- The work scope variations and delays that triggered them were not the contractor’s fault; and
- The contractor’s work was otherwise of good quality and defect-free.
The amounts of money that civil and construction contractors lose in unpaid work and compensation for delay are sometimes so great that the loss results in contractors’ insolvency. One only need look at the regular flow of media reports of the latest in an ever-growing list of civil and construction contractor insolvencies to understand what a grave and perennial problem this has been.
But there is a way for civil and construction contractors to make sure they get paid their contractual dues for the work that they do and keep it. “By doing a really good job on site?”, you ask. Well, if you don’t do your job properly and in accordance with the requirements of the contract, that will affect your right to be paid. Unfortunately, though, doing the best job that any contractor could aspire to do is not enough to entitle a civil or construction contractor to get and keep what their work is worth. To secure their entitlement to the money they have earned under a civil or construction contract, a contractor must, with the help of a construction lawyer, prepare and submit regular paperwork.
A construction lawyer is needed to help with this paperwork because:
- It is complex; and
- It is subject to strict time-bars.
“Time-barring” is the term commonly used in the civil and construction industry to describe what happens when a contractor misses their deadline under a civil or construction contract to submit paperwork such as:
- A notice of the contractor’s opinion that a direction constitutes a work scope change;
- A claim for a contract price variation on account of a work scope change;
- A notice that an event prescribed under the contract has happened, causing delay (“qualifying cause of delay”);
- Updates to notices of qualifying causes of delay, at time-intervals that are prescribed under the contract;
- A claim for an extension of the time allowed for the contractor’s works to reach practical completion; and
- Notice of dispute.
Civil and construction contracts may prescribe other, time-barred notifications and claims, but these six appear almost everywhere except in home building works contracts.
The fact that these notification and claim requirements must be submitted within time-bars that can be as short as 48 hours and that their required contents are usually very complex, should make it clear why civil and construction contractors need lawyers to help them manage their contracts.
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