Construction dispute lawyers Brisbane

Building disputes can be costly and highly complex, whether you’re the builder, property developer or owner.

Our Queensland construction lawyers are here to protect your rights and find a cost-effective and efficient resolution for your building dispute.

MEMBER OF

Do you need a Construction and Building dispute lawyer?

Building and construction disputes are common and on the rise in Australia. The effects of an unfavourable security of payment adjudication or tribunal/court decision can be serious. Unfavourable outcomes have greatly contributed to the increase of insolvency for developers, builders, and contractors.

When a construction dispute arises or appears likely to arise, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible so that you can develop a strategy, get on the front foot and preserve your rights. At Gibbs Wright Lawyers, our diverse experience across all jurisdictions in resolving building and construction disputes means that we are well equipped to assist you in navigating the dispute, enforcing your contractual rights, and resolving the matter so that you can continue to focus on the project.

Gibbs Wright act for developers, head / main contractors, sub-contractors and homeowners and have extensive experience in court-based litigation, adjudication and QCAT claims in its building disputes and administrative review jurisdictions.

Construction Disputes We Can Help Resolve

Our construction and building lawyers in Brisbane can provide advice and representation in a wide range of building matters, including:
  • Contract Interpretation and Advice
  • Residential contract disputes
  • Commercial contract disputes
  • Defective work in delays
  • Dispute resolution and settlement deeds
  • Termination of a contract;
  • Payment disputes
  • Subcontractors’ Charges

How to get started

Litigation can be complex and daunting, but we’ll make the process easier for you. Book a complimentary call today.

1

Tell us your
legal matter

Speak to one of our litigation lawyers via phone for free and provide the necessary details and documents so we can better understand your situation.
2

We’ll let you know
where you stand

If we think that you have a good argument, we’ll devise a strategy for you on how we will take on your matter, and give you legal guidance and a fee estimate. All for free.
3

You Decide

It’s ultimately your decision whether to hire us or not based on the strategy and fee estimate we gave you. There’s no obligation and no pressure to proceed.
1

Tell us your legal matter

Speak to one of our litigation lawyers via phone for free and provide the necessary details and documents so we can better understand your situation.
2

We’ll let you know where you stand

If we think that you have a good argument, we’ll devise a strategy for you on how we will take on your matter, and give you legal guidance and a fee estimate. All for free.
3

You Decide

It’s ultimately your decision whether to hire us or not based on the strategy and fee estimate we gave you. There’s no obligation and no pressure to proceed.

Why Gibbs Wright

Few law firms specialise in litigation, and fewer still have the skill and understanding needed to deliver commercially viable results in building disputes and other matters.

Here at Gibbs Wright, we practise exclusively in litigation and dispute resolution, and our clients should feel confident they will receive unparalleled service and dedication.

Our firm represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of construction litigation and dispute matters. No case is too small, too big, or too complex for our lawyers to take on the challenge. Each and every client receives the same level of attention and dedication, whether they are an individual or one of the nation’s biggest companies.

When it comes to construction and building disputes, Gibbs Wright’s expertise can help take the stress, emotion and cost out of your dispute.

What we do is very simple: we sue people, defend people when they get sued and negotiate resolutions to disputes to prevent proceedings from commencing. It’s the only thing we do and we do it really well.

Having done this for many years, we know the law and the legal processes like the back of our hands. But more importantly, we know how to win. No matter the industry you’re in or how complex your situation is.
When we take on your legal matter, you know that our team of expert litigation lawyers will fight for you not just for the sake of it. We will fight relentlessly so you can get back to business as soon as possible.  

Hear it from our satisfied clients

Expert litigators, ready to fight for you.

Spencer Wright

Litigation Director

Spencer leads the strategic operations at Gibbs Wright, with a wealth of knowledge on Queensland law and business operations.

Melany Dowse

Special Counsel

Melany represents a range of clients from individuals and small businesses to body corporates and insolvency practitioners.

Mitchell Caldwell

Senior Litigation Solicitor

Mitchell provides practical, accurate and timely advice and unique solutions to assist corporate clients, small businesses and individuals across a range of areas including property, contract, and construction disputes. Mitchell works closely with all the team members of the firm to ensure that Gibbs Wright delivers first-class legal service, advice and representation.

Emma Bettridge

Special Counsel

Emma is an experienced commercial litigator with a proven track record of success in complex commercial disputes. With a wealth of experience obtained in both boutique and tier one firms, Emma is dedicated to providing her clients with practical and solutions-oriented advice.

David Thomas

Litigation Solicitor
David has practised predominantly in the areas of building and construction, commercial litigation and dispute resolution. Prior to becoming a lawyer, David was a construction electrician in the mining and oil and gas industries working on some of the largest projects in Australia.

John Clemente

Litigation Solicitor

John’s commitment to his clients is unparalleled. He is deeply perceptive, ensuring that every client receives personalised and effective counsel.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are common causes of construction disputes?

    Disputes in building and construction matters can occur for many different reasons, with no one clear cause. Some common causes we see includes, project delays due to unforeseen issues, defective workmanship, non-payment or payment disputes, contract breaches such as failure to meet specifications or deadlines, and design errors or omissions.

  • How can I prevent construction disputes as a contractor or owner?

    To prevent disputes, contractors and owners should create clear, detailed contracts that define project scope, responsibilities, timelines, and payment terms. Effective project management, regular communication, and proactive issue resolution can also help mitigate disputes. Additionally, including well-crafted dispute resolution clauses in contracts can provide mechanisms for resolving conflicts without resorting to litigation.

  • What steps should I take if a construction dispute arises?

    When a construction dispute arises, it’s essential to document the issue thoroughly, including correspondence, photographs, and any relevant contract documents. Attempt to negotiate a resolution with the other party and consider mediation or arbitration, which are often faster and more cost-effective than litigation.

    You can engage our services from the moment you suspect an issue may be present. We’re able to represent you in a wide range of matters and ensure that a resolution is reached in a timely manner.

  • What is the difference between defects in design and defects in construction?

    Design defects relate to errors or omissions in the project’s plans, such as inaccurate drawings or incorrect specifications. Construction defects result from poor workmanship during the building phase, such as faulty installation or substandard materials.

  • How can I prove negligence in a construction dispute case?

    To prove negligence, you typically need to establish four elements:

    1. the defendant owed a duty of care;
    2. the defendant breached that duty;
    3. the breach caused harm; and
    4. there were damages resulting from the breach.

     

    NB. If the claim is for pure economic loss then the vulnerability of the plaintiff and their ability to protect themselves against any breach by the defendant of the duty of care will be considered.

    In construction cases, this might involve showing that a party failed to meet industry standards or codes.

    If you suspect negligence has occurred during a building project, get in touch with our team today.

  • What are common alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods for construction disputes?

    Alternative dispute resolution methods for construction disputes include mediation, where a neutral third party facilitates negotiations; arbitration, a private process with a neutral arbitrator rendering a binding decision; dispute review boards (DRBs), which provide ongoing project oversight; and expert determination, where an expert makes a decision on a specific issue.

  • How can I assess the strength of my construction dispute case?

    To assess the strength of a construction dispute case, consult with an experienced construction litigation lawyer (like us here at Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers) who can evaluate the facts, evidence, and legal options. We will consider factors such as contract terms, applicable laws, industry standards, and the likelihood of success in litigation or alternative dispute resolution.

  • What can your building and construction lawyers help with?

    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).

    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.

    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.

    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

     

    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.

Explore your legal options with Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers - Brisbane’s Leading Litigation Firm.

Our expert litigators will let you know where you stand and give you legal guidance.