Business agreements and transactions involving construction can rarely be achieved with a simple handshake. Construction operates in an extremely complex environment, so it must be dealt with legal bases. One of the primary reasons for this is that each project carries many inherent risks. In every construction project, there are a lot of processes and people involved that affect the outcome of the project.
Simply put, a lot of things can go wrong, and given the large amount of financial resources put into a project, it is crucial to cover all the legal foundations to prevent any risks and liabilities. Thus, you need a competent construction lawyer to help you navigate through this highly complex environment of construction.
What Is a Construction Lawyer?
A construction lawyer specialises in construction law and the legal issues relating to the design and construction of buildings and structures.
Here are some of the specific legal issues that a construction lawyer can assist you with:
Contracts are legally binding agreements between two or more parties.
In construction, contracts are one of the most important documents as they are used primarily to govern the project. They define the duties and obligations of each party, as well as determine the risks and liabilities involved in the project and how each party is protected in that regard.
A competent construction lawyer not only drafts the contract but also advises and negotiates the terms for a client’s best interest whether it is a developer or a builder.
In many cases, construction contracts can become tricky and complicated to understand given the complexity of each project. This can cause unexpected legal issues for an unsuspecting party. Whether it is drafting or negotiating contracts, a construction lawyer will assist in contracts that should be more favourable on your part.
2. License agreements
Construction projects often require licenses, access permits and certificates as specified by the authorities at the local, state and federal government levels. These licences, permits and certificates depend on the nature and scope of the project.
Smaller construction projects mostly require building licensing and development approvals, while large-scale construction projects often require a comprehensive list of licensing and permits (e.g. zoning approvals, high-risk work licences, etc.).
Similar to construction contracts, license agreements can become complicated, especially in large-scale projects.
Given the sensitivity of most projects, a missing license agreement can be detrimental to the project’s schedule of activities. If you are a contractor or operate a construction company, it is best to hire a construction lawyer who can assist you in determining and obtaining the appropriate permits and licences that your projects may need.
The Australian construction industry is reported to generate over $360 billion in revenue, amounting to 9 per cent of the country’s overall GDP. It is no wonder that construction payment is closely associated with construction law.
A large number of disputes revolve around construction payments, wherein complainants raise issues of non-payment or delayed payment. Whether you are a contractor, a subcontractor or a construction firm, a construction lawyer can help to ensure that you receive the full payment stipulated in the terms of the contract.
In some cases, construction claims (i.e. requests for compensation) can also arise due to some unfulfilled obligations by one party of the construction contract. These unfulfilled obligations can be caused by project delays, changes in project scope, unforeseen circumstances, insufficient information or even conflicts.
If you need to file a claim or if a claim has been filed against you, you need to be represented by a competent construction lawyer who will advise you in accordance with your rights. Your construction lawyer will also help you enforce your rights.
4. Employment and Subcontractors
While employment law is viewed as an entirely different specialty of law, many cases in Australian employment law turn to the specific industry wherever the subject employee works. This means that construction companies have additional obligations to their employees that do not apply to other industries.
For example, a construction employee’s pay and conditions depend on the type of employment (e.g. daily hire, full-time hire, part-time hire or casual employee). Specific modern awards and enterprise agreements for construction employees may also apply. A construction lawyer can help in determining these obligations and assist the construction firm’s human resources in drafting the firm’s policies and procedures, as well as offer counsel in cases where employment disputes arise.
5. General Negligence and Torts
If you are a contractor or operate a construction firm, the last thing you want to face is a negligence lawsuit. Even if you have exercised all the safety precautions, accidents can still happen, particularly in a high-risk construction environment. If these accidents happen, there is a high probability that you will get sued.
If you are facing a negligence lawsuit, a competent construction lawyer will defend you based on Australian employment laws applicable to your case.
Meanwhile, if you are the other party and you believe that there is negligence resulting in a construction accident, you may be entitled to damages. A construction lawyer can also help you assess the damages and determine if these damages warrant a negligence claim.
How Madison Marcus Can Help You
Given the complexity of the laws and regulations concerning construction and infrastructure, acquiring expert legal advice from construction lawyers is important to mitigate the risks involved in each construction and infrastructure project.
If you are concerned about a potential dispute or what rights you have in the context of construction law, our construction lawyers at Madison Marcus are prepared to listen to your concerns. We can help you in these areas relating to construction and infrastructure:
- Dispute resolution
- Review and custom design & construction contracts
- Contract warranty claims and other matters concerning the completion of the project.
Call us at 131-LAW (529) for enquiries or a free 15-minute consultation.