Protect your business interests with holistic dispute resolution advice
We’ll help you resolve disputes relating to all types of construction contract (both standard and bespoke form), including:
- construction/engineering contracts (including facility maintenance contracts)
- professional appointments
- pre-construction service agreements
- performance bonds
- collateral warranties
- development agreements/agreements for lease
- terms and conditions
Drawing on years of industry knowledge, our team of specialist construction and engineering solicitors will support you with:
- Understanding the merits of each option available, considering your commercial needs and relationships with other parties. These options range from seeking to arrive at a resolution of the dispute, whether through negotiation/discussion or alternative dispute resolution, to more formal procedures such as adjudication, litigation and arbitration.
- Evaluating the potential consequences of your options both in general and with reference to costs and your commercial considerations.
- Advising you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case, identifying the key aspects and carrying out cost/benefit analyses which will allow you to take the appropriate position in negotiations and any dispute process.
- Guiding you through the process from start to finish. We will manage the dispute process, guiding you on appropriate strategies at each stage to arrive at a satisfactory resolution of the dispute.
- Using appropriate strategy to minimise disruption. Where possible we’ll always seek to achieve an early resolution and provide you with certainty, avoiding wasted management time and costs and preserving relationships with other parties.
In short, we are here to save you money and time whilst reducing current and future risk to you.
Construction and Engineering Dispute Resolution Procedures
Our solicitors are skilled in using a variety of methods and procedures to resolve your dispute.
These procedures include binding (either on a permanent or temporary basis) proceedings such as adjudication, litigation, arbitration and expert determination. They also include non-binding procedures such as mediation and early neutral evaluation. Each of these procedures is considered below.
Adjudication is a dispute resolution peculiar to the construction and engineering industries. Either party may, but is not obliged to, refer a dispute to adjudication.
Adjudication is a speedy process in which the adjudicator produces a binding but temporary decision within 28 days. The decision is enforceable in the High Court on a summary judgment basis. Either party can then, if they wish, refer the matters decided in the adjudication to the dispute resolution procedures outlined in the contract. In short, adjudication applies a “pay now, argue later” approach.
We act on behalf of both referring parties (claimants) and responding parties (defendants) in adjudication proceedings, marshalling the evidence, preparing statements of your case, liaising with expert witnesses, the other party and the adjudicator and representing you at any meetings with the adjudicator.
Some construction and engineering contracts provide for disputes arising under the contract to be referred to arbitration.
Arbitration is a formal process akin to litigation but is private to the parties. The decision of the arbitrator is binding but subject to appeal in certain circumstances.
We act on behalf of both claimants and defendants in arbitration proceedings, marshalling the evidence, instructing Counsel, liaising with expert witnesses, the other party and the arbitrator and appearing at arbitration hearings, including the full hearing.
Early Neutral Evaluation
An independent expert will make an objective non-binding assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case. This will give you a realistic idea of how you may fare in litigation, encouraging a swift settlement before you reach that stage in the process.
We act on behalf of both parties in early neutral evaluation, marshalling the evidence, preparing your position statement, liaising with expert witnesses, the other party and the independent expert and appearing at any hearing.
Some construction and engineering contracts provide for and the parties can agree to a dispute being determined by an expert.
Expert determination shares similarities to adjudication as to the speed of the process. However, the determination of the expert is generally binding on the parties.
We act on behalf of both referring parties (claimants) and responding parties (defendants) in expert determination, marshalling the evidence, liaising with expert witnesses, the other party and the expert and appearing at any hearings.
Litigation – Court Proceedings
In the absence of an arbitration clause, litigation in court is the default mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Construction and engineering disputes generally proceed in the specialist Technology and Construction Court.
The decision of the judge is binding but subject to appeal in certain circumstances.
We act on behalf of both claimants and defendants in litigation proceedings, dealing with the pre-action protocol for construction and engineering disputes, marshalling the evidence, instructing Counsel, liaising with expert witnesses, the other party and the court and appearing at court hearings, including the trial.
Mediation is a voluntary process where the parties, with the assistance of an independent third party mediator, seek to resolve disputes through discussion and negotiation.
A mediation is a non-binding process although any agreement reached at the mediation will be confirmed in writing and be binding upon the parties.
Proceedings at a mediation are without prejudice and cannot be referred to in any subsequent formal proceedings.
We act on behalf of both parties (claimants and defendants) in mediation, marshalling the evidence, preparing your position statement, liaising with expert witnesses, the other party and the mediator and appearing at the mediation.
Supporting stakeholders in any construction project
Our construction solicitors have experience acting in dispute situations for:
- main contractors
- construction and engineering professionals/consultants
- end users including public and private sector organisations
Common conflicts we provide support for include:
- claims for extensions of time, as to the date of practical completion and as to the entitlement and deduction of liquidated damages for delay.
- claims as to quality, claims for defective workmanship or design, claims as to remedying defects and issues as to compliance with specifications.
- issues as to the timing and content of payment and pay less notices, issues as to the valuation of the works, claims for variations, claims for loss and expense/delay and disruption, final account disputes, fee claims by professionals/consultants and claims under collateral warranties and performance bonds.
Why choose our construction dispute solicitors?
Our robust approach and hands-on knowledge of the construction sector allows us to quickly and efficiently provide our clients with the support they need to move their business forward.
All of our construction dispute lawyers previously worked for a top 100 UK law firm or in-house at large international businesses. Many having achieved partner level or beyond, with at least 10 years post qualified experience.
Howard has over 20 years’ experience specialising in construction and engineering law. Prior to becoming a solicitor, he spent 23 years as a Chartered Building Surveyor and Chartered Builder, giving him extensive knowledge of the construction industry.View profile
Dispute Resolution Partner
A former partner in a leading north-west law firm, Michael is one of our business disputes partners specialising in alternative dispute resolution & litigation for complex claims.View profile
Dispute Resolution Solicitor
Mark previously worked at Freeths LLP and Nabarro (which became CMS) prior to joining Harper James. His areas of expertise include complex contractual disputes, public procurement challenges, IT/Outsourcing & reputational managementView profile
Our three transparent pricing packages are designed to give you the widest possible access to high-quality legal advice, whatever the size and nature of your business:
Straightforward access to senior solicitors at a competitive rate.
An affordable solution for businesses needing one-off legal support. Receive ‘City’ partner-level expertise at a fraction of ‘City’ prices.
Have legal peace of mind for £189 per month with additional support from £99 per hour.
A monthly subscription legal support package specifically designed for start-ups and smaller businesses.
For businesses requiring 60+ hours of support a year, with prices equivalent to £99 per hour.
Fully account managed quarterly subscription service for businesses with more complex legal needs.