Building &
Construction Law

Building disputes are one area of law where costs can quickly escalate and where the need to obtain sound, timely legal advice can be critical in ensuring a cost-effective resolution for all parties. Our lawyers excel in providing considered and commercially minded advice to individuals and companies involved in building and construction disputes.

Litigation & Alternatives to Litigation

If you are involved in a building and construction dispute it is likely that you have considered commencing litigation. While litigation is one option there are a number of alternate options available to which may better serve your needs. These include arbitration, expert determination by an agreed join expert and alternative dispute resolution including mediation.

Often, the appropriate dispute mechanism available to parties may be specified in the actual building contract. We are able to review all types of building and construction contracts and advise you on your options.

In the absence of a specified contractual dispute mechanism we can also review your particular circumstances and relevant aspects of your building dispute and prepare a detailed plan of action including advice on whether litigation or an alternative dispute resolution method is recommended.

In addition to litigation additional avenues for dispute resolution include:

Binding Arbitration or Expert Determination

– The parties to a dispute may agree that an independent third party (Arbitrator/Expert) will hear and determine the dispute. Often the Arbitrator in building and construction dispute will have expertise in the particular area of dispute. In some instances where litigation has been commenced the Court may order the parties to participate in binding arbitration/expert determination with a specified or agreed expert;

Mediation

– The parties agree on a mediator to conduct a formal mediation conference. Usually the mediator will specify what information and documents need to be tabled before the mediation. The parties are usually asked to prepare written submissions outlining their positions. In addition to legal representatives the disputing parties (or their nominated representatives) attend the mediation. Mediation is generally less costly than litigation and can also be effective in repairing business relationships if the parties are likely to need to complete a project or continue to work on future projects together.

Negotiation

& Informal settlement conferences – While not as formal as mediation, we are often able to achieve excellent outcomes by negotiating on a client’s behalf either with the other party or their legal representatives. Negotiations can be carried out by phone or in writing (letter or email). In some instances an informal settlement conference facilitated by legal representatives but without a mediator can also prove effective in achieving a cost effective and quick resolution.

We are also able to provide advice and assist in the resolution of:

  • Claims made to ACT or NSW Fair Trading;
  • Security of Payment Act claims and disputes;
  • Delay disputes and claims for liquidated damages; and
  • External commercial issues which may affect a dispute such as community concerns and complaints, environmental and property law issues.

In addition, we are able to provide advice and assistance in relation to all aspects of building and construction disputes and welcome the opportunity to discuss your matter with you. We appreciate that the prospect of a building or construction dispute may seem very daunting.

If you need any assistance contact one of our lawyers at reception@oconnorharris.com.au or call 02 6247 6077 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.