Building and Construction Lawyers

Front End Construction

We have learned that the best way to minimise the risk of disputes is by planning ahead and laying down the best contractual foundations for our clients.

Irrespective of the scale of your construction project one of our specialist construction lawyers can advise you how to efficiently sculpt a solution that best suits your requirements.   

Widely regarded as one of NSW’s premier construction law firms Harrington Lawyers believes in the industry adage that says “a successful project takes 80% planning and 20% implementation”. With the right planning the success of a project can be calculated before the first shovel hits the ground and if the proper contractual structuring has been attended to ahead of time, then both parties will benefit from having peace of mind and walk away satisfied at the end of the project.

Carefully thought out and detailed construction contracts are obviously important and it is this attention to detail that is our practice’s specialty. Harrington Lawyers utilises the following methodology to sculpt the most suitable contracts for our clients:

Contract Delivery Advice

One of our expert construction lawyers can advise you on contract administration and on preventative measures that enable you to detect and assess potential claims and how to employ the right strategies thereafter.  

Like any other industry, construction is governed by the rules of commerce and there are many areas of law that need to be taken into account when sculpting the right contract for a project. These include trade practice considerations, intellectual and other industrial property rights, as well as industrial relations and environmental law and property law, to name just a few.

Harrington Lawyers can help guide you through all aspects of construction law in Australia and can assist you in the preparations and negotiations with sub-contractors for the calling of quotations and tender of contracts, providing contract administration services and assist in the projects control of contract costs. Our contractual administrative services, which can help you to minimise subcontractor variation claims, include the following:

  • Drafting “scope of works” and tender packages to accompany requests for quotations issued to subcontractors.
  • Helping you manage review processes to ensure the award of all subcontracts within the required timeframe and that the appropriate budget is dealt with properly.
  • Assisting with the procurement and award of Works Packages, updating and maintaining various registers, administration of securities, distributing of contractual correspondence.
  • Administering subcontracts and supply agreements including payments, variations, final claims.
  • Checking compliance and preparing reports on commercial performance of the contract.

Contract Structuring

Harrington Lawyers mitigates contractual risk through advising on efficient project management strategy, which includes confirmation of the right insurance cover and other conditions which will safeguard your interests.  

In the event of contractual administrative difficulties arising from complex or highly technical issues of contract law, Harrington Lawyers are able to properly advise you without losing sight of the overall commercial position.

Contract Documentation

Construction Contracts govern how the parties to the contract behave and how the project manager and the contract manager administer the relationship between the parties. There are several popular standard forms of construction contracts that are currently used in Australia.

Harrington Lawyers are intimately familiar with all aspects of construction law in Australia and as such can select and customise these standard forms to best suite the specific needs of our clients. Our contract documents set out the obligations and responsibilities of the parties concerned and can include the following aspects: the Articles of Agreement and the Conditions of Contract for completing a simple contract (or as a deed). Other contract aspects can include working drawings, bills of quantities and other specifications and the schedule of work. Failure to keep to the dates set out in the contract and the information release schedule may entitle the contractor to claim an extension of time and or be compensated.

Contract documentation may include a schedule for potential tender adjustments or negotiated clarifications that are agreed after the receipt of tenders and prior to the signing of the contract. Details such as the provision of a performance bond and how to obtain collateral warranties from any sub-contractors or suppliers can also be included by your dedicated construction lawyer tasked with designing your contract.

Both parties to the contract need the contract witnessed and signed prior to the commencement of work.

A construction lawyer from Harrington Lawyers can sculpt amendments for our client’s best protection. Common areas of interest to most clients are notably performance bonds and bank guarantees, delay costs and liquated damages, retention, variations and progress claims.

Depending on your requirements a specialist construction lawyer can be assigned to you in order to determine the best contract type that’s appropriate to your needs.

Back End Construction

Harrington Lawyers are experienced in building and construction law, including front and back end work for principals, head contractors, sub-contractors and consultants. We prepare bespoke construction contracts, building contracts, sub-contracts and ancillary agreements and can advise and compile the preparation of tenders. Our practice is able to work with project managers in order to create commercial contracts and agreements that will protect your interests. We are there to assist you with commercial legal advice to facilitate the smoother management of your project. Harrington Lawyers provides you with the contract administration tools to streamline the internal management of construction contracts.

There are a number of alternative methods of dispute resolution, other than litigation, which can provide timely commercial outcomes at a fraction of the cost. Our practice prides itself on achieving commercially sensible results for our client’s at affordable costs, such as, expert determination and early neutral evaluation, as well as facilitated negotiation and adjudication; through these methods we are able to bring about the timely resolution of disputes for our clients.

Harrington Lawyers dispute resolution is focused on our client’s commercial imperatives and is based on our in-depth knowledge of the industry and its practices and procurement methods, as well as our understanding of legislative remedies available to us, including legislation pertaining to payment in the various jurisdictions around Australia.

Litigation

Our in-depth industry knowledge and experience in bespoke structuring of contracts enables us to understand and successfully resolve our client’s issues.

We have a proven track record in providing legal services in the design and development of complex construction projects. We work on many forms of construction ranging from residential developments through to large commercial construction developments.

The firm is experienced in designing dispute resolution plans that encompass litigation, arbitration and expert determination or alternative dispute resolution for construction claims. We also handle professional indemnity and other insurance claims such as personal injury claims, which we handle with our resident expert construction accident lawyer.

Insurance dispute management includes our ability to conduct proceedings in all jurisdictions and in arbitration, with a preference for cost effective mediation or alternative dispute resolution. Our wide and successful experience in areas of mediation helps to achieve more client-satisfactory results more promptly than the litigation process.

Our experience has taught us that being able to identify disputes early on is an essential part of mitigating contractual risks. We identify any technical steps that must be actioned in terms of the contract and we work with our clients to achieve a timely and satisfactory resolution of disputes.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Most construction disputes in Australia are dealt with by arbitration rather than litigation. Australia has adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law (with minor amendments) for domestic and international arbitration. Those familiar with international arbitration will understand the broad framework of the Model Law in Australia.

Australia has six state supreme courts and one federal court. These jurisdictions are ultimately subject to appeal to the High Court, but the High Court rarely decides construction matters. Each jurisdiction has different procedures, although all the jurisdictions broadly follow the common law adversarial system. Some state jurisdictions have in recent years instituted fast-track commercial lists, which have improved the speed with which disputes can be resolved. Arbitration continues to generally be a speedier method than litigation for resolving construction disputes.

Recognised in NSW as being one of the best construction law firms Harrington Lawyers explores cost effective methods of dispute resolution, such as:

Adjudication under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 NSW (the Act) and the equivalent legislation in other states of Australia and New Zealand. Our lawyers have extensive experience in these types of claims and the adjudication nuances from state to state, which enables us to achieve favourable results for our clients.

Harrington Lawyers are here to help our clients to get the most out of security of payment legislation. All States and Territories in Australia have Security of Payment Acts. Harrington Lawyers are here to help guide you through these sometimes complex Acts. The Acts provide a mechanism for industry participants to be quickly paid money that is owed.

Our responsibility is to help all parties comply with the procedures and time frames of the relevant Act and work through the adjudication process. Our specialised services in building construction law provide our clients with quick efficient and cost effective solutions.

Settlement Conferences are useful in that they help working parties to better understand the dispute and if no resolution is reached, then at least a better understanding of the problems at hand and a clarification of the issues make litigation more efficient. Harrington Lawyers provides the facilities to hold these conferences with the concerned parties adopting a sensible approach that maximises the likelihood of a resolution.

Mediation is a forum of dispute resolution growing rapidly in popularity in the industry. It may also be encountered when mediation is required through a dispute resolution clause under a contract or via a courts mandate for mediation to take place prior to an actual court proceeding. As a result mediation may be an obligatory form of resolution ordered by the court in order to resolve a dispute. Mediation works best when both parties to a dispute consent to resolve their differences through the mediation process in the first instance, on a without prejudice basis.

Often it is an advantage for the mediator to do a site visit and inspection prior to the Construction Mediation meeting and sometimes mediation sessions can even take place on site, which allows for an instant review of the issues at hand surrounding the dispute. This is particularly advantageous in matters pertaining to the progress or quality of work and quantum issues. Harrington Lawyers intimately understand the array of issues that can arise in construction that can result in disputes.

Where mediation at the site location is not practical Harrington Lawyers can assist with accommodating meetings at our own facilities to help parties to a dispute find an effective and satisfactory outcome.

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