Business Legal Services

Construction & Engineering Disputes

Rely on our dispute resolution lawyers to advise you on the most appropriate and cost-effective method for dealing with your conflict

Construction and engineering projects are complex undertakings. Tight deadlines in circumstances where cost and quality are key factors can cause pressures that lead to a dispute.

From small to complex or high-value claims, our experienced construction dispute lawyers are ready to act swiftly, providing you with sensible and effective advice so you can get back to focusing on your business with minimum disruption. If a situation has got to a point where dispute resolution or litigation becomes necessary, we are ready to fight your corner.

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Experts in construction law

In addition to assisting with construction and engineering disputes, our team can assist you across all areas of construction law, including:

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)
  • sub-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.

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

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.

Arbitration

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.

Expert Determination

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

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:

  • employers
  • developers
  • main contractors
  • sub-contractors
  • construction and engineering professionals/consultants
  • funders
  • 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.

Testimonials

What our clients say

Harper James provides my small growing business with a scalable, reliable, team-oriented approach to legal advice. Whenever we face a problem, I know that Harper James are there to provide helpful and cost-effective advice, to scope out the options, make clear the costs and risks, and give me the information I need to make decisions.
Bryn Richards CEO, Aeristech
As a University spin-out getting the right team of lawyers to support our emerging business was fundamental and the team are always available to provide us with the invaluable guidance and support we require.
David Hodgson CEO, Amalyst
Our longstanding relationship has enabled us to get deals over the line quickly and efficiently, with minimum fuss or kickback from opposing lawyers representing the companies we’re investing in. I find the legal team at Harper James efficient, smart and personable. Speed is of the essence for early stage investing and Harper James recognises this and acts accordingly.
Kieran Hill COO, Ascension Ventures
The team at Harper James have demonstrated time and again that they have a deep understanding of the issues facing entrepreneurial businesses and their funding.
Charles Smith Director, Interpac Limited
They adopted a proactive approach to overcoming issues, and their knowledge of the sector and investors and preparedness to identify novel solutions has proved extremely beneficial.
Charles Smith Director, Interpac Limited
Harper James swiftly solves problems with a minimum of fuss. I strongly recommend them and they are a pleasure to work with.
Jean de Fougerolles CEO, Ascension Ventures
Harper James provides my small growing business with a scalable, reliable, team-oriented approach to legal advice. Whenever we face a problem, I know that Harper James are there to provide helpful and cost-effective advice, to scope out the options, make clear the costs and risks, and give me the information I need to make decisions.
Bryn Richards CEO, Aeristech
As a University spin-out getting the right team of lawyers to support our emerging business was fundamental and the team are always available to provide us with the invaluable guidance and support we require.
David Hodgson CEO, Amalyst
Our longstanding relationship has enabled us to get deals over the line quickly and efficiently, with minimum fuss or kickback from opposing lawyers representing the companies we’re investing in. I find the legal team at Harper James efficient, smart and personable. Speed is of the essence for early stage investing and Harper James recognises this and acts accordingly.
Kieran Hill COO, Ascension Ventures
The team at Harper James have demonstrated time and again that they have a deep understanding of the issues facing entrepreneurial businesses and their funding.
Charles Smith Director, Interpac Limited
They adopted a proactive approach to overcoming issues, and their knowledge of the sector and investors and preparedness to identify novel solutions has proved extremely beneficial.
Charles Smith Director, Interpac Limited
Harper James swiftly solves problems with a minimum of fuss. I strongly recommend them and they are a pleasure to work with.
Jean de Fougerolles CEO, Ascension Ventures

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.


Pricing plans

Legal support designed
to fit your business needs

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:

City

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.

On-Demand

Providing you with priority access to a dedicated panel of highly experienced solicitors.

Fully account managed quarterly subscription service for businesses with more complex legal needs.


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