Construction Disputes

Reasons for Construction Disputes in South Africa

Construction disputes occur rather frequently and, in some instances, if no compromise can be reached, they are referred to an arbitrator. However, in many instances, construction disputes are settled though litigation and the subsequent court decision awarded.

Construction disputes occur because the nature of the work entails many circumstances not foreseen by either party to the contract. With such, projects might cost more than budgeted for or might not be completed within the allocated timeframe. Alterations to the building project can cause delays or variations with which the client might be unhappy and not willing to pay. In some instances, the alterations are not recorded and when it comes to payment, disputes arise.

Another reason for such construction disputes is the wording of the contract. If there is ambiguity in the agreement, misunderstandings or incorrect interpretations can follow. The agreement might, for instance, not clearly state the steps to follow or procedures in place should there be variations from the original contract. Dispute resolution by means of arbitration should also be stipulated in the construction agreement.

The mere nature of building projects makes it necessary to have a professionally drafted agreement in place. It is certainly also recommended never to sign such an agreement without an attorney specialising in contract or construction law at least reviewing the agreement for possible ambiguities that could lead to disputes further down the line.

Getting legal advice when alterations or extensions of the contract must be made is essential. As said earlier, construction disputes often arise because of alterations made, not properly recorded and agreed upon in writing.

Building contracts should clearly stipulate the timeframe for each phase, payment procedures, minimum standards required, procedures to follow regarding alterations to the project, and more.

Legal Assistance Available for Contractors and Sub-Contractors

Contractors and sub-contractors often end up on the short end of the stick because clients simply withhold payment. With larger construction firms, it may not pose such a significant problem, but for smaller contractors, any construction disputes that lead to non-payment or late payment of invoices can result in severe financial trouble and even bankruptcy.

Where contractors have completed their contractual obligations, they have the right to fair and due payment in a timely manner. Many such contractors and sub-contractors do not have the financial means to take legal steps against non-paying clients in order to get payment.

As a boutique law firm that has a team of construction attorneys and professionals, we assist contractors and sub-contractors on a no-win, no-fee basis subject to terms and conditions. In addition to such services, we provide pre-contract guidance, handle dispute resolution processes, litigate on behalf of clients, and provide contract-drafting services for operators in the building and construction industry.

We also assist regarding compliance with the Construction Industry Development Board Act and regulations. Our team of attorneys is able to assist with resolving issues regarding breach of contracts, penalty clauses, employment related problems, insurance issues, and occupational health and safety issues.

We understand the complexities related to construction agreements, circumstances that can lead to alterations in projects, and labour issues that can cause delays in performance. Our team stays current with all relevant legislation regarding dispute resolution in the building and construction industry and we take the time to understand the issues at hand.

Make use of our services, whether to draft or review agreements, assist with dispute resolution, or to litigate in order to ensure that you get compensation for work completed according to the agreement requirements.

Call us on +27 (011) 234 2125 for professional legal assistance in handling construction disputes in South Africa.


Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Call on our attorneys for legal advice, rather than relying on the information herein to make any decisions. The information is relevant to the date of publishing – July 2018.

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