The right time to seek legal advice is not when a construction contract goes wrong but before it has even been negotiated.
ORJ can provide you with legal support in respect of any issue you might encounter in relation to a construction contract; whatever point you have reached.
We specialise in providing advice and assistance in contract negotiations; specifically tailored to your needs.
You may want our contract experts to conduct all negotiations on your behalf and to draft all of the required contract documents or you may wish to limit our involvement to a straightforward contract review, prior to final signature.
Whatever support you need, ORJ can provide it.
As soon as your contract has been signed and works have begun, ORJ will offer continuing assistance with any issues that might arise in connection with contract performance.
This includes payment applications, pay less notices, delay notifications, defects issues and suspension notices, to name but a few.
At ORJ, we understand that sometimes we need to blend unnoticed into the background and other times, we need to be right at the forefront of the action; ensuring that you achieve the best possible outcomes time after time.
Expert Construction Lawyer, Michael Smyth has more than 10 years’ specialist construction law experience. He has completed and passed the RICS Diploma in Adjudication and has built an ever-expanding portfolio of work for a diverse range of construction clients.
a) Negotiating and drafting new contracts
At ORJ, we believe that there are a number of key elements to effectively negotiating and preparing new contracts:
Understanding… It is equally important to understand:
- exactly what you are trying to achieve; AND
- precisely what is being offered.
Whilst the above points may sound obvious, it is commonplace for contracting parties to make the mistakes of:
- failing to sufficiently prioritise matters likely to have the greatest impact on the contract;
- taking insufficient time to properly consider the correct interpretation of proposed clauses and ignoring their potential impacts;
- not thinking carefully about whether things can be drafted more effectively.
2. Delivery… Once agreement has been reached, it is critical that the finalised contract reflects the parties’ true intentions.
Agreeing Heads of Terms is often the point at which the real work required to finalise a contract begins.
As far as the parties are concerned, they have their agreement; however, there are usually numerous, potentially critical matters that will still need to be considered and agreed before the contract can be finalised.
Failure to include clauses at all or to ensure they are sufficiently clear to deal with important matters such as site access, main contract obligations, programme alterations and delay (to name but a few) can lead parties into subsequent disputes; which are likely to be very disruptive, time consuming and expensive.
3. Limitations… Understanding what your finalised contract cannot and does not achieve can often be equally, if not more important than understanding what it does.
In almost every commercial negotiation, it is necessary to accept a little give and take. In light of this, it is essential that your legal team understands your objectives and priorities very clearly.
Ensuring that your contract achieves exactly what you intend is always our first priority.
b) Defective work and delay / prolongation claims
At ORJ, we understand that it is not possible to deliver every project on time and without any quality issues.
Mistakes are made and programmes sometimes need to be changed.
Whether you are the wrongdoer or the victim, it is essential that you adopt a pro-active approach (before, during and after contracts are agreed), to ensure that minimal programme time is lost and wasted costs are reduced so far as possible and recovered, wherever appropriate.
c) Payment issues
The payment regime dictated by the Construction Acts (1998 and 2011) can be complex and difficult to administer. Furthermore, the consequences of getting things wrong can be incredibly onerous and expensive.
Whether you have issues concerning the validity of payment notices, the timing of pay less notices or the prospects of potential challenges to payment assessments, ORJ’s Construction team will help you work through all of the available options and find the best solution for your business.