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Construction

Dispute Resolution for Businesses

Meet David Mallinson

Dispute Resolution specialist, Nicola Webster is an expert in resolving disputes in the construction sector. Her clients include construction/building companies and contractors, property developers, engineers, architects, and other consultants. Nicola also acts for homeowners.

With extensive experience in acting for employers, contractors, and professional consultants, Nicola deals with a wide range of construction disputes which commonly relate to issues such as defective works, design flaws, delayed works, variations, non-payment and loss and expense claims.

Employer claims

Her experience includes acting for the employer in disputes regarding:

Poor workmanship/defective works

Defective works caused by a contractor’s poor workmanship occur frequently in construction projects.

Depending on the terms of their appointment, contractors are ordinarily under a contractual obligation to rectify defects during a set period following practical completion. Some defects however may go unnoticed until sometime after practical completion – these are known as “latent defects”. Examples of latent defects may be problems with foundations or failure of waterproofing leading to water ingress. Depending on the terms of the agreement, sometimes a contractor’s liability for latent defects expires before they are discovered.

Design flaws

Defects may also arise from a design flaw beyond the contractor’s remit, for example, due to a defective design by an architect or other professional consultant. In cases such as this, it may be possible to bring a claim against the consultant (for example, an architect) for failure to exercise the skill and care required of them as the designer. If the contractor has taken responsibility for the design as well as the build, it may be possible to claim for any design defects against the contractor.

Delayed works

Delays are a frequent occurrence in construction projects and those that cause a project to overrun a set completion date can cause the employer both inconvenience and additional costs.

When a set completion date has been agreed, a contractor has no automatic statutory or common law right to an extension of time should they need one. Therefore, many standard construction contracts provide an express provision to allow for extensions of time when necessary.

Extensions of time can be a highly contentious issue, with the two parties disagreeing on the delaying affect an event has had and the extent of delay this has caused.

Contractor claims

Her experience includes acting for the contractor in disputes regarding:

Loss and expense claims

There are often occasions when a contractor wishes to seek an additional payment from the employer for losses and expenses incurred by the contractor. Often, this is because the contractor has incurred costs or suffered losses due to delays or prolongation of a construction project due to the employer or other disturbances to the project due to the actions of the employer or designer (due to errors in the design, for example) or other events beyond the contractor's control.

Contractors do not have an automatic right to claim for additional costs from an employer so whether or not such losses and expenses may be recoverable will depend on the terms of the contract between the contractor and employer. If a contractor wishes to claim for losses and expenses from an employer, it will need to show that either, it is entitled to make such a claim under the terms of the contract, or, that the employer is in breach of one of the terms of the contract.

Non-payment

Nicola also has extensive experience of achieving favourable outcomes in cases where an employer has, without justification, failed to pay the contractor in accordance with the contract.

Professional consultants

Our Dispute Resolution team can also help with professional negligence claims if you believe a service you have received for example from an architect, engineer or architect fell below the relevant professional standards and that this has caused you either financial loss or some other form of damage.

Construction disputes can be costly for all parties involved, be that the contractor, employer or other professional consultants. Nicola has a reputation for a pragmatic commercial approach which achieves swift and successful outcomes for her clients.

If you are involved in a construction dispute it is important to seek advice as early as possible. Please contact Nicola Webster or another member of our Dispute Resolution team. Girlings has offices in Canterbury, Ashford and Herne Bay.

Our Experts

David Mallinson

Head of Department
Dispute Resolution

Andrew Watson

Partner
Dispute Resolution, Contested Wills & Estates

Nicola Webster

Associate Solicitor
Dispute Resolution

John Quinlan

Assistant Solicitor
Dispute Resolution

Katie Collis

Trainee Solicitor
Dispute Resolution

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