Building & Construction disputes

Building & Construction disputes

Building and construction disputes can be costly and extremely complex. At Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers, we can help you to resolve your construction disputes in a timely and cost-effective way.

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Gibbs Wright are registered members of Queensland Law Society
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Our experience in building and construction law across Australia means that we are able to resolve diverse disputes that arise between (and/or affect) homeowners, builders, developers, contractors, and subcontractors.

Work with our construction lawyers to resolve your building dispute today.

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TESTIMONIALS

What our clients say

These guys are fantastic. Extremely fast to respond with invaluable expertise and assistance. They helped resolve my dispute in the most cost effective and timely manner. Billing was extremely reasonable for the service.

5 star rating

Paul Cleveland

Highly recommend Spencer and his team ….. took what was a very stressful time of my life and made it that much easier to deal with. The best possible advice leading to the best possible outcome for me. Thank you so much !!

5 star rating

Simone Douglas

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Building Lawyers

Who can we help?

Whether your dispute involves a residential or commercial project, our team can help any party involved. Below are some examples of issues we can deal with.

Subcontractors and suppliers:

Homeowners:

Builders and developers:

  • negotiating necessary changes to work;
  • delays or defective work;
  • quality of supplied materials;
  • security of payments;
  • insolvency;
  • subcontractor’s charges;
  • court or tribunal proceedings;
  • licence cancellations; and/or
  • statutory demands.
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Our services

Building and construction law services

We offer a variety of services to help resolve construction disputes, which cover a broad range of issues. For example, disputes can relate to contracts, payments or matters with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

Building and construction law services

Contracts

Gibbs Wright regularly advises clients on disputes that arise between parties to a contract. Disputes and litigation can range from a minor disagreement about a contractual clause to protracted litigation.

We pride ourselves on getting good results for our clients, as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

We can help you with:

  • understanding the contract and advising on terms as part of formulating an overall dispute resolution strategy that is efficient and cost-effective;
  • residential contract disputes;
  • dispute resolution clauses;
  • dealing with defective work and delays;
  • termination of a contract;
  • negotiating commercial outcomes; and/or
  • drafting and negotiating settlement deeds.

Contract interpretation and advice

We can assist you in identifying your rights and obligations under a particular contract and advise you accordingly. Regardless of whether you are a homeowner, a contractor or a principal, a comprehensive understanding of the contract will ensure that disputes can be avoided or resolved quickly.

Property construction

Defective work and delays

The main questions in determining defects and/or delays deal with identifying:

  1. Who was supposed to do what?
  2. When was it required to be done?
  3. Did they do it in accordance with the standard that they agreed to?

Defects and delays can often be attributed (particularly in commercial contracts) to more than one party. Therefore, it is important to quickly determine liability for defects and delays.

We are associated with experts in the construction field who can prepare expert reports in relation to the above matters.

We can then advise in relation to the allowable causes for delay in the contract and a way forward, or on the appropriate strategy going forward to achieve the best outcome for you.

The main questions in determining defects and/or delays deal with identifying:

  1. Who was supposed to do what?
  2. When was it required to be done?
  3. Did they do it in accordance with the standard that they agreed to?

Defects and delays can often be attributed (particularly in commercial contracts) to more than one party. Therefore, it is important to quickly determine liability for defects and delays.

We are associated with experts in the construction field who can prepare expert reports in relation to the above matters.

We can then advise in relation to the allowable causes for delay in the contract and a way forward, or on the appropriate strategy going forward to achieve the best outcome for you.

Termination of contract

Most, if not all, commercial contracts have dispute resolution clauses which must be employed before an external claim can be made. In the case of residential contracts, the QBCC encourages parties to undertake early dispute resolution which helps the parties to communicate and avoid the dispute escalating.

Residential contracts generally require that the parties follow a strict process when considering a right to terminate the contract. In most cases, this will require the party to issue a notice to remedy breach before any termination can be purported.

To terminate a contract, it is imperative that you are on solid ground to do so. If the contract is terminated invalidly, you could be up for significant costs which could far outweigh any perceived benefit of terminating the contract.

Settlement deeds

A settlement deed is a document that formalises an agreement between parties in a dispute. It is sometimes called a “deed of release”, because the parties agree to release each other from all future claims and demands. It should clearly state details including who the parties are, a background to the dispute, key obligations, and consequences of non-compliance. Gibbs Wright can help you negotiate and draft a settlement deed that is both effective and enforceable.

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Your team

Meet your construction dispute lawyers

Melany Dowse

Special counsel

Melany Dowse

Mitchell Caldwell

Litigation solicitor

Mitchell Caldwell

Litigation solicitor

Michelle Fanning

Payments

Gibbs Wright regularly advises parties on payment matters arising from residential building work, including homeowners, contractors and subcontractors.

We can help you with:

  • claims under the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (Qld) (the BIF Act);
  • payment claims and schedules;
  • late, short, and non-payments;
  • subcontractor charges and timeframes; and
  • subcontractor/supplier liens.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (Qld) (the QBCC Act) requires that all residential building work contracts entered into with a value over $3300 must be in writing and signed by all parties. Contracts over $20,000 must be in writing, signed by all parties and the building contractor must provide the building owner a copy of the consumer building guide.

Unless otherwise provided for in the contract, payments are made at the end of each stage. The stages are specifically defined in the contract and a builder must not demand payment for that stage until the work is completed. Typically, a dispute will arise when the completion of the stage is disputed by the homeowner after the builder has demanded payment for that stage, or the work is defective. If a homeowner withholds payment from a builder without a sufficient reason, the builder may suspend the work, charge interest or terminate the contract. Accordingly, it is imperative parties understand their rights and obligations under the contract.

Claims under the BIF Act framework

Gibbs Wright regularly advises parties to all matters arising under the BIF Act (which replaced the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld), or BCIPA) and their interstate counterparts.

Our lawyers have advised clients on disputed claims ranging from $50,000 to more than $25 million.

We can help you with:

  • understanding the legislative framework (including timing and technical issues) as part of formulating an overall dispute resolution strategy that is efficient and cost-effective; and
  • drafting and negotiating settlement deeds.

BIF Act timeframes for payment

There are strict time limits under the BIF Act, which must be complied with to ensure that a payment claim or payment schedule is valid. This is particularly important if a claimant makes an application for adjudication. If you do not comply with the timeframes, your interests will be compromised.

Subcontractor charges under the BIF Act

Gibbs Wright regularly advises contractors and principals who receive forms issued under the BIF Act.

The BIF Act provides a mechanism for subcontractors to secure payment from someone higher in the contractual chain.

We can help you with:

  • drafting required forms;
  • commencing or defending proceedings to enforce charges;
  • negotiating commercial outcomes; and
  • drafting and negotiating settlement deeds.

By issuing a valid subcontractor’s charge, the principal is required to withhold enough from any payment to the higher contractor to pay your charge. If the higher contractor doesn’t pay you then the principal pays you directly.

BIF Act timeframes for subcontractor charges

There are strict time limits under the BIF Act which must be complied with to ensure that the charge is valid and able to be enforced. If you do not comply with the timeframes, then your claim will fail.

The most important timeframes are:

  • the claim must be made and submitted to the correct parties within three months of completing the work; and
  • if you’re not paid, court proceedings need to be commenced within one month after the claim was made.

Subcontractor/supplier liens

If you have supplied building materials that have not yet been incorporated into the building work, you may be able to exercise a lien over the materials, if you have not been paid. To ensure that you can effectively assert a lien in such circumstances, it is important to address these matters in your contract.

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Queensland Building and Construction Commission

Gibbs Wright regularly advises parties on matters involving the QBCC, the regulator for the building industry in Queensland

We can help you with:

  • lodging complaints;
  • licensing disputes and bans;
  • notification of offences;
  • advice on directions to rectify defective works;
  • statutory home warranty insurance decisions;
  • disciplinary decisions;
  • adjudication applications, responses, challenges and enforcement; and
  • reviews at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Licensing disputes and bans

A licence issued under the QBCC Act may be suspended or cancelled, and the licence holder can be fined, if building and construction laws are broken. Gibbs Wright can help you challenge a licence decision or assist with mitigating serious consequences such as being the subject of a public warning.

Disciplinary decisions

If the QBCC finds that a licence holder has broken building and construction laws, it can take disciplinary action. This can range from an official reprimand which appears to the public record, to licence cancellations and substantial fines. Offences include a failure to pay statutory home warranty insurance, non-compliance with a contract, and failing to provide adequate supervision on a worksite. Gibbs Wright can help you navigate the disciplinary process.

Statutory home warranty insurance decisions

Residential building work valued over $3300 in Queensland must have home warranty insurance issued by the QBCC. This insurance protects a person in instances such as when defective work is not rectified or when a building subsides. Gibbs Wright can help you make, or defend, a claim.

Adjudication

Under the BIF Act, the QBCC can adjudicate when a person has made a valid payment claim and they:

  • have not been paid in full by the due date;
  • have not been paid the full amount under a payment schedule; or
  • disagree with the amount proposed to be paid in the payment schedule.

The commission will assess the payment claim, then decide whether the respondent is required to pay and how much (the adjudicated amount). If the payment is not made, the claimant can take further action such as suspending work or applying to a court for a judgment debt.

QCAT reviews

If dispute resolution with the QBCC does not resolve a dispute, a party can apply to QCAT. QCAT can decide disputes about matters including residential building work and disciplinary proceedings against building contractors, as well a review certain decisions made by the QBCC.

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Why us

Why choose Gibbs Wright

Our experienced lawyers can advise on a wide range of issues affecting the building industry, whether you are a homeowner, builder, developer, contractor or subcontractor.

We aim to resolve building and construction disputes in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible, and are available for advice and representation. Call us today for a no-obligation consultation about your legal rights and options.

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