The Role of the Construction Law Attorney Regarding Building Contracts in South Africa
Construction plays a major role in the South African economy. Apart from the contribution to the infrastructure of the country, the industry is a major employer. Contracts are essential in the industry and in this regard, it is crucial to make use of the services offered by a construction law attorney to ensure fair and transparent contracts.
A contract is an agreement between two or more parties in which legally enforceable obligations are assigned to the parties. Once signed by the parties, it becomes a legally binding agreement. Each party to the agreement has certain rights and obligations. If a party fails to live up to their obligations, they are in breach of contract and there are remedies to deal with such. Remedies can be in the form of additional costs payable because of the breach. It is thus best to ensure that the parties to the agreement understand their rights and obligations. To this end, the guidance of a construction law attorney is useful for the interpretation of a construction agreement to ensure that the parties understand the implications of breaching the contract.
The construction law attorney is furthermore able to draft a contract that includes all the important aspects. For one, the agreement must state what must be done, how long it will take to complete, which costs are involved, and how payment works. It also needs to stipulate what each party must do and what will follow if one of the parties defaults on a specific obligation.
The construction contract is normally drafted as an agreement between the employer or client and the contractor. Such a contract is in place to stipulate what must be constructed, repaired, changed,, or demolished in an agreed-upon period at an agreed-upon cost, according to a standard. It is signed by the client/employer and the contractor. The contractor can also sub-contract and the sub-contract agreement is then based on the main construction contract. To this end, the help of an attorney specialising in construction law is also beneficial to ensure that the sub-contracts are also fair and transparent. All parties must follow the terms of the contracts or face the consequences of breach of contract.
A construction law attorney can be approached to assist with dispute resolution regarding breach of contract and where needed, litigate to ensure the performance of a party, whether such is in terms of work or quality to be ensured or for payment of work completed according to the requirements of the contract.
Various role players are involved in the construction contract. The employer is the party that commissions the work and pays for such. The employer’s representative is the party acting on behalf of the employer. This can be the project manager or engineer. The contractor is the party contracted to perform the construction duty at an agreed-upon price. The sub-contractor is commissioned by the contractor to perform part of the project. The attorney’s roles are to draft the agreement, help with dispute resolution, represent a party in a litigation process, and provide guidance regarding the drafting of a contract.
The two main types of construction contracts are that of standard and bespoke. The bespoke contract is an agreement that is not standard and is customised to meet the requirements of the parties involved within the framework of relevant laws. The standard contract is the typical contract between employer and contractor. The construction law attorney is able to draft either type to ensure fairness and clarity.
Call us on +27 (0) 11 234 2125 for assistance regarding the drafting and reviewing of construction contracts 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 – June 2018.