Construction Dispute Avoidance & Resolution


Avoiding construction and engineering disputes should be the overriding objective of all parties involved in a building project. However, achieving this aim requires communication, awareness, access to the relevant paperwork and records – and most importantly of all, the willingness of all parties to cooperate.

Unfortunately, the variable and complex nature of construction and engineering work combined with reliance on contractors can often create the conditions for disputes to arise. There is potential for contractors, engineers, architects and other parties to clash over delays, unpaid fees, payment for work done, variations, additional work, defective design and professional negligence.

All parties should be vigilant throughout the project to enable any potential disputes to be addressed and resolved at the earliest opportunity. When disputes fester and grow, delays become more likely, which in turn can significantly increase the cost of the project.

When construction and engineering disputes develop, they require careful management including adopting both a tactical and legal approach.

Whether you’re an employer, developer, procurer, professional or contractor, Michael Gerard Solicitors has the legal expertise and depth of experience to resolve even the most complex construction disputes.

Common disputes in the construction and engineering industries

Construction and engineering disputes are time-consuming and expensive. Where possible, appropriate project controls and monitoring procedures should be put in place at the start of the project to prevent disputes arising.

Over the years, Michael Gerard has worked to resolve a wide range of construction disputes, including:

  • Shortcomings in the design of the work
  • Defective work
  • Changes to the original scope of the work
  • Payment disputes under construction contracts
  • Delay and extension of time claims
  • Professional negligence on construction projects
  • Contract disputes

Construction dispute resolution methods

Negotiation can be a good initial step to resolve a dispute. But when a dispute cannot be resolved simply by negotiating, what other methods are available to the parties concerned?

Thankfully, there is a range of ways to resolve disputes. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, one of the following methods could be suitable. At Michael Gerard Solicitors, we handle all types of construction and engineering related disputes using the most appropriate method of resolution for each specific case, including adjudication, arbitration, litigation and mediation.

An outline of the different resolution methods are explained below.


Mediation can be an effective method in settling disputes early on. The process requires the agreement of both sides to participate and, aside from direct party negotiation, is the cheapest method of dispute resolution.

Mediation requires both parties to use an independent third party mediator to identify issues and explore the options for resolution in an attempt to reach agreement.


Adjudication is a popular method for resolving construction disputes due to the implied term in all construction contracts for disputes to be referred to adjudication.

A fee is paid for an adjudicator to assess the dispute and rule on the presented facts and documentation. The ruling from the adjudicator comes within a minimum of 28 days and can only be overturned by litigation or arbitration.

Our practitioners have been at the forefront of adjudication since its inception in May 1998 and have not only advised and guided many clients through the adjudication process, but have also been appointed as adjudicators. This gives us valuable experience of the process from different perspectives.


Arbitration has been a favoured method of resolving disputes in the construction and engineering industries for many years. By using arbitration, disputes are resolved by qualified experts (as opposed to a judge).

To be able to go down the arbitration path, it is a prerequisite that there is an arbitration provision in writing. Arbitration is a favoured procedure because it is held in private, lacks formality and avoids court proceedings which can be time-consuming.


Litigation is the more traditional form of dispute resolution. Depending on the type and value of the dispute in question, proceedings are brought either in the County Court or the High Court, depending on the value and complexity of the dispute.

Litigation can be a lengthy and expensive process meaning that it’s in the best interests of all parties to avoid this method. But where it is necessary, our practitioners are best placed to offer advice. Michael Gerard Solicitors is experienced in assisting with litigation, and routinely instructs specialist construction barristers to represent clients at court hearings of all types.


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