We advise on all types of construction and engineering-related issues and on construction contracts for commercial and residential developments, and renewable energy projects.
Our construction practice covers both dispute resolution and general construction legal advice in addition to drafting and negotiating all levels of project documentation.
If you require construction or engineering law advice, speak to one of our solicitors today. Call us on 0333 323 5292 to discuss your latest construction project in a legal context today. Alternatively, fill in our enquiry form and we will get back to you.
We act for a broad range of clients across the building and engineering sectors, including developers, contractors, subcontractors, professional consultants, property owners, insurers and banks.
This experienced team provides a full range of contentious and non-contentious expertise in the following areas:
- Alternative dispute resolution
- Appointments for consultants
- Bonds and guarantees
- Building finance agreements
- Collateral warranties
- Compromise agreements involving complex variations to contract documents
- Conservation projects
- Contract drafting and negotiation of various forms, for example, JCT family of contracts, CRINE, ICE, MR1, C Works NE (ECC), NAM/SC, IchemE, etc.)
- Contract drafting of bespoke form, for example, guaranteed maximum price, target cost, fixed design fees, modular building, partnering, etc.)
- Expert determination
- Insolvency related to construction contracts
- Joint venture and partnering
- Novation agreements
- Procurement strategy
- Tender documentation
- TCC litigation matter
We understand the industry and are able to identify, assess and manage the risk at an acceptable level of legal cost. With claims in particular, wherever possible, we aim to minimise legal costs and avoid unnecessary courtroom battles. We have a commercial approach to all aspects of construction projects from its inception to final development.
We have worked on many high-profile developments, including:
- The University of York’s National Science Learning Centre
- York St John University’s De Grey Court
- York Minster's Great East Window Project
- National Railway Museum’s Yorkshire Wheel
- Barcelona’s Marino Aquarium
- Westminster’s London Aquarium County Hall
- Rudding Park, Harrogate
- Guild Hall, York
The construction and engineering department is listed as a centre of excellence in the 2013 edition of the Legal 500 and was the only York-based law firm of solicitors to feature in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.
High praise from Chambers and Partners, cite Niamh Batterton as an “Associate to Watch”. Further, Niamh Batterton of Lupton Fawcett is “very proficient and commercially aware” in the advice she gives clients on non-contentious construction matters. One commentator reports: “Niamh was excellent and really helpful with all aspects of the work”.
Who We Work With
Clients include end users (such as purchasers and tenants), developers, funders, main contractors, consultants and subcontractors. We advise on claims involving arbitration, adjudication, litigation, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) on topics such as:
- Design workmanship and materials issues
- Extension of time, related loss and expense and liquidated damages
- Express and implied terms
- Contractual statutory and common law liability risks
- Abatements set off counterclaims
- Compliance with the Construction Act 1996 (as amended)
- All civil contentious issues related to construction and engineering and renewables contracts
Do I Need a Building Contract?
Yes, to control the time and money risk to ensure the project is brought in on budget by the estimated completion date with quality design, materials and workmanship. Following the implementation of the amended Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 on 01 October 2011 (amended by Part 8 of The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009), contracts formed wholly or partly in writing or orally will fall under the scope of the Act. Time and money can often be wasted in determining what was said and agreed between the parties and it is, therefore, best to have it all reduced to a clear written building contract so that arguments cannot arise about what was agreed. Any negotiations leading up to the exchange of the Building Contract should be clearly marked as "subject to contract".
How Will the Amended Construction Act Affect Me?
The main changes relate to payment, adjudication and suspension. If you enter into a construction contract after 1 October 2011 and you do not use a contract compliant with the amended act, the non-compliant parts of the contract will fall under the ambit of The Scheme for Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998 (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2011 meaning the risk will start to get out of control. You may also be missing out on taking advantage of amendments that are more beneficial to you.
Will a Letter of Intent Protect My Position Ahead of a Building Contract Being Put in Place?
Yes, but only if it’s carefully drafted and details what still needs to be agreed, including timescale and scope of works, as well as a maximum commitment on expenditure plus other key clauses. Often these factors are overtaken by events and clients forget to update the Letter of Intent which then becomes less relevant, for example, when the maximum commitment is exceeded. Letters of Intent are inherently uncertain and require careful drafting. They should always be regarded as a short-term temporary measure before entering into the formal Building Contract and not as a substitute thereof.
What is My Best Remedy for Non-payment?
If you have a written contract, read it carefully and ensure you have an entitlement to suspend performance of the works in whole or part. If you have, ensure you have followed the payment regime yourself and then give appropriate notice to suspend the works in whole or part. Suspension in part is very useful as you may be able to defer delivery of a key component that makes the whole system work. It is best to seek legal advice on this because a failed suspension out with the contract can be regarded as a major breach of contract, i.e. abandoning the works and a claim may be made against you for leaving a site and not completing the work on time or at all.
What If My Contractor Goes Bust?
Most contracts contain specific termination clauses in this event and the contract must be carefully considered (as must the consequences of termination) before notice is served. In the event of insolvency, a contract must be terminated before another contractor can be given possession of the site in order to finish the works. You need to check very carefully that the act of insolvency "marries up" to the right to terminate. Again, this is a major step and so it is best to take legal advice.
Can an Employer Sue an Insolvent Contractor?
Yes, but leave of court is required and there isn't much point in incurring the legal and other costs if you are an unsecured creditor as only pennies in the pound are usually recoverable.
Can an Insolvent Contractor Sue the Employer and Does the Employer Have to Pay Any Money?
The administrator/liquidator can sue for sums due and generally, those sums must be paid subject to any sums deductible by way of set-off or counterclaim.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.
Contact Us for Help
Our experienced team can help no matter what situation your business is facing. Contact our Leeds, York or Sheffield office today to find out more, or use our contact details below.
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