Building Contract Disputes: Dispute Resolution

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Construction contracts are an essential component for those working in the construction industry. Building contract disputes refer to conflicts that arise between parties involved in a construction project. These disputes may arise due to disagreements over the terms, conditions, performance, or outcomes outlined in a building contract.

Building contracts are legal agreements that detail the responsibilities, expectations, scope of work, timelines, payment terms, and other relevant aspects of a construction project.

Building contract disputes can disrupt the progress of construction projects. They may also lead to financial losses, damage business relationships, and potentially result in legal action. Resolving such disputes often involves negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or, in some cases, litigation.

At Expert Commercial Law we have access to a panel of specialist building contract dispute solicitors who are highly capable of assisting clients with a claim for compensation and offering expert legal advice.

If you are looking for more information surrounding construction disputes then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.


What can cause a building contract dispute?


A building contract dispute can be caused by various factors that lead to conflicts or disagreements between the parties involved in a construction project. These factors can range from miscommunication to unforeseen circumstances. Here are some common causes of building contract disputes:

Scope of Work Disagreements:

Parties may have differing interpretations of the scope of work, specifications, or quality standards defined in the contract. This can lead to disputes over what was originally agreed upon.

Delays and Timelines:

Delays in project completion can result from various factors, such as unforeseen site conditions, weather, or labour shortages. Parties might dispute the responsibility for the delays and the associated time and cost impacts.

Payment Disputes:

Disagreements over payment terms, progress payments, change orders, and additional costs can arise. One party may claim they are not being paid appropriately. The other may argue that work hasn’t been completed to satisfaction.

Quality and Defects:

If the final construction does not meet the agreed-upon quality standards or contains defects, disputes may occur. These disputes may be over whether the responsible party should fix the issues and who bears the associated costs.

Changes and Amendments:

Changes to the original scope of work, often through change orders, can lead to conflicts regarding how these changes should be handled, priced, and documented.

Termination Disagreements:

If one party wants to terminate the contract prematurely, disputes can arise over the reasons for termination, any contractual penalties, and the distribution of unfinished work.

Communication Issues:

Miscommunication, lack of clarity in contract language, or misunderstandings about project requirements can contribute to disputes.

Force Majeure and Unforeseen Events:

Events beyond the control of either party, such as natural disasters or government actions, might lead to disagreements.

Resolving a building contract dispute


A building contract dispute can be resolved through various methods. The method chosen depends on the nature of the conflict, the willingness of the parties to cooperate, and the desired outcome.

Some of the main methods of resolving a contract dispute include negotiation, mediation, adjudication, arbitration and litigation.

Direct negotiation between the parties involved is often the first step for dispute resolution. This involves open communication to discuss the issues, clarify misunderstandings, and find mutually acceptable solutions. Negotiation can be informal and less adversarial than other methods.

Parties can also partake in mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who facilitates discussions between the parties. The mediator helps identify common ground, encourages open communication, and assists in finding solutions. Mediation is non-binding, meaning the parties can choose not to agree to a settlement if they are not satisfied.

There is also the option of arbitration. Arbitration is a more formal process in which a neutral third party, the arbitrator, listens to both sides of the dispute, reviews evidence, and renders a binding decision. The parties agree in advance to abide by the arbitrator’s decision, making arbitration legally enforceable.

If all other methods fail, parties can progress to court proceedings. This can be a lengthy and costly process that requires legal representation. A judge or jury will evaluate the evidence presented by both parties and render a verdict.

How can Expert Commercial Law assist?

Building contract disputes can have serious consequences and can lead to substantial financial losses. If a construction professional has breached their contract, and this breach has led to a loss, you are likely to have grounds to make a claim.

Contact our expert team today and we will put you in touch with a solicitor on our panel. They can provide you with the legal advice and assistance you need.

We are not a firm of solicitors; however, we have a panel of commercial law solicitors who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm.

Our panel of commercial solicitors assist on a wide range of cases. We also assist on professional negligence cases against estate agents, architects and many more.

Our solicitors can also help with a number of other commercial claims, such as partnership disputesbreach of contract and CCJ removal.

Please contact us today using our enquiry form below, and a member of our team will be in touch with you.

Building Contract Disputes: FAQs


What preventative measures can be taken to avoid building contract disputes?

Ensuring that the contract is clearly drafted, with unambiguous terms and conditions, is fundamental. This includes detailed descriptions of the scope of work, payment schedules, and processes for handling changes or delays.

Regularly scheduled meetings and updates between the involved parties help in identifying and addressing potential issues early on. Effective communication serves as a preventive measure against misunderstandings that could escalate into disputes.

Maintaining thorough documentation of any agreed-upon changes or variations to the original contract is crucial. This documentation should include details of the change, impact on timelines and costs, and explicit consent from all parties.

How does the choice of dispute resolution method impact the outcome of a building contract dispute?

The expertise and experience of the arbitrator or mediator can significantly influence the resolution process. Specialists in construction law or the specific type of dispute can provide more informed and relevant guidance or decisions.

Different methods offer varying levels of confidentiality. Arbitration and mediation are generally private processes, protecting the parties’ reputations and allowing for more candid discussions. Confidentiality can be crucial for maintaining business relationships or protecting trade secrets.

Negotiation and mediation, being more collaborative and less adversarial, can help preserve business relationships. In contrast, litigation and, to some extent, arbitration can strain relationships due to their confrontational nature.

What are the financial implications of engaging in a dispute resolution process?

Parties should weigh the potential benefits of winning the dispute against the costs involved in the dispute resolution process. This may include legal fees, time, and resources. This analysis can help in deciding whether to pursue a claim, negotiate a settlement, or drop the matter.

Typically, the losing party in litigation or arbitration may be ordered to pay the winning party’s costs. However, in mediation or negotiation, the parties may agree to share the costs or each bear their own costs, regardless of the outcome.




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Please note, we are not a firm of solicitors; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm. 


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