At Edge Consult we see a wide range of construction and civil engineering disputes, typically relating to time (delays), cost (payment) and related contractual issues. This practical experience of dealing with disputes gives us an excellent insight into the best ways of avoiding disputes.
Whilst there are several ways to avoid disputes, at Edge Consult we see one common area which has the potential to reduce the likelihood of a dispute arising. However, that area is so often overlooked or at least not given the recognition and time it deserves.
This key area of dispute avoidance is the contract/agreement between the parties.
A good contract does not necessarily mean a multitude of pages of small print and a voluminous number of associated documents. Edge Consult believe a good contract/agreement would be a written document that clearly and concisely sets out what has been agreed between the parties including: –
- what is to the work to be provided and by when?
- what is the mechanism for dealing with any changes and/or any delays to the works?
- what is the payment(s) required and when will the payment(s) be made?
- what are the other obligations and liabilities of each party to the contract?
Failure to clearly and concisely set out these matters can quickly result in differences of opinion that in turn can easily result in a dispute.
To simplify matters, there are a number of; industry recognised standard forms of contracts available for both main and sub-contracts. However, these are often extensively amended or bespoke contracts/agreements are used. This can result in uncertainty between the parties.
To minimise your risk, Edge Consult can help you: –
- check that any standard form of contract has been correctly completed;
- check that any documents referred to reflect the agreement between the parties;
- review any amendments or bespoke contracts to identify areas of uncertainty or risk;
- provide RAG (Red / Amber / Green) Reports to highlight main areas of risk;
- suggest or negotiate alternative wording to help protect your position;
- provide guidance to your delivery team(s) in managing the contract to protect your position;
- assist in developing your own terms and conditions, providing practical solutions.
With this support in place, we believe not only is the likelihood of a dispute occurring significantly reduced, but if the other party instigates a dispute, you will find it far easier to protect your position.
If you need assistance with a contract review or setting out the terms for your contract please get in contact with Paul Garratt or one of the Partners at Edge Consult.