Litigation. Its a frightening word to many yet to others it is seemingly unknown. The world of construction litigation has become massively entwined with confusion as to goals, limits, and the expectations of a litigant. Attorneys are often unable to properly advise a potential client as to the presumed costs and lengths of a legal proceeding simply because there is absolutely no way of knowing.
A legal proceeding depends upon several factors: the types of parties, the extent of the damage; the willingness to settle; the ability to settle; the requirements of outside contracts; the delays which may ensue; the ability to afford legal representation; and unfortunately personal feelings towards another party. Though attorneys try, it is impossible to predict the extent of the variables and where and how the cookie may crumble. In the end, it is all an unknown.
Because parties are unable to predict the other side’s wherewithal to go the distance with a proceeding or arbitration, several dangers bear notice. Is it worth the risk to lose your financing? Is it worth the possibility of losing a good customer? Is it worth the costs of obtaining adequate legal assistance? These are the questions a headstrong business owner should be asking. Whether it be prior to contracting with another party, prior to beginning the work, or immediately after dispute arises, it is important to have a dispute resolution process or plan in mind for each job, contractor, or customer.
The dangers associated with contracting fallout can be prevented in a number of ways by being up front in your contracts with customers, contractors, and others. A good attorney can provide you with options as to strategies to use for dispute resolution. These strategies may encompass the whole project or merely deal with specific aspects. For instance, it may be wise for you to force immediate mediation of change orders or altered job conditions for price resolution, however you may want to utilize binding arbitration or even court intervention for disputes arising out of final payment. These mechanisms should be addressed during the contracting period, and every detail down to the venue, choice of law and choice of neutral should be decided by the parties.
Most people forget the contracting is open to the parties. It seems obvious that most contractors believe that there are only certain things that can go in a contract. Remember, the law of contracts appeals to your creativity. The more creative and forward thinking a party is, the more likely the contractor will have its way when dispute rears its ugly head.
I conjunction with our affiliate attorney Wolfe Law Group, Levelset intends to release a series of Contracting Toolkits for construction companies. It is our hope that the Toolkits will spark some conversation amongst your company and your employees as to some of the problems you may face or have faced in the past. The Toolkits will provide a vast assortment of issues that face many contractors today, and the remedies that may save your firm endless time and money.
Whether you are in mold remediation and require extensive environmental obligations; whether you work in asbestos and need proper disclosures and releases; whether you lease heavy machinery to subcontractors and need warranty and release language; whether you provide fire damage services and need safety disclosures; or whether you simply need to ensure specific insurance compliance, Wolfe Law Group’s Toolkits can help you find a way to manage your needs.
Please stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, begin to think about what could make your construction process run smoother.