Disputes are undesirable for any individual or business, but even with careful planning they cannot always be avoided. We understand the disruption caused to households and businesses when building works go wrong and we understand you will want any issues resolved to your satisfaction as quickly and cost effectively as possible.


Hayley Prideaux
Hayley Prideaux
Solicitor & Estate & Trust Dispute Specialist

At McMillan Williams, we provide strategic and pragmatic advice to prevent problems escalating into significant disputes. We act decisively to achieve the best possible results for our clients whatever the size or nature of the dispute, whilst always striving to achieve the earliest possible resolution without the need to issue formal proceedings.  We understand the complexities of construction disputes and are familiar with industry standard-form documents, such as Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) Standard Building Contracts.  We also have experience of liaising with the National House Building Council (NHBC) and interpreting/enforcing the provisions of the NHBC Buildmark policy.

We are focused on delivering cost-effective and pragmatic advice. However, if proceedings are necessary, our team of tenacious lawyers will ensure your interests are represented and protected at all times.  Our experience includes dealing with:

  • Complaints about builders or contractors - Including claims of poor workmanship, overcharging, failure to complete a project on time and defending claims for non-payment. We are experienced in dealing with claims for the cost of remedial works, refunds and trading losses.

  • Claims by builders or contractors - Including problems getting paid, additional work and variations to the contract.

  • Building Dispute Mediation - Mediation is a form of structured negotiation. Where we believe it is in your best interests, we will proactively encourage you and your builder or contractor to enter into mediation. The procedure is both informal and cost-effective, and parties to mediation can walk away at any time. We will always ensure that any agreement you enter into protects you and is legally watertight.

  • JCT Standard Building Contracts

  • Interpreting and enforcing the provisions of the NHBC Buildmark policy

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who are in dispute with their builders.  If you are facing a dispute with your builder or contractor, or if you wish to bring a claim or would like advice on any aspect of construction disputes, then call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

In normal circumstances a breach of contract by one party does not entitle the other party to bring the contract to an end.


Hayley Prideaux
Hayley Prideaux
Solicitor & Estate & Trust Dispute Specialist

There are 2 notable exceptions to this:

  1. where the contracting parties have agreed, whether by express words or by implication of law, that any (or a particular) breach of contract shall bring the contract to an end; or

  2. where the event resulting from the breach of contract has the effect of depriving the other party of substantially the whole benefit which it was the intention of the parties that it should obtain from the contract i.e. where there is a fundamental breach of contract.

In the second case the court must consider the commercial significance of the breach or breaches of contract. To amount to a fundamental breach it must go to the root of the contract.

Repudiation of the contract requires acceptance if it is to bring the contract to an end. A failure to continue to perform obligations under the contract may be sufficient notice that the innocent party has elected to treat the contract as at an end depending on the particular contractual relationship and the circumstances of the case.

Omissions or Bad Workmanship

In general, mere omissions or bad workmanship, where the work is substantially completed, does not go to the root of the contract and does not therefore amount to repudiation of the contract. As a result, you are not entitled to refuse to pay for work done on the grounds that the work, although substantially completed, is not completed in accordance with the contract in some respects. However,  a deduction of the sum required to repair defects or make good any defects can be made from the sum due for the work.

However, an accumulation of breaches of contract by the builder or contractor may indicate an inability on the part of the builder or contractor to deliver the contract to a reasonable standard.

Delays

Where time is not of the essence, delay on the part of the builder/contractor does not amount to a repudiation of the contract unless it is proved that he is unable to complete the contract within a reasonable time, or it is proved that the delay is such as to deprive the innocent party of substantially the whole benefit of the contract.

In a previous building dispute case, the Court of Appeal held that the employer had no right to determine (end) the contract. The builder/contractor had agreed to demolish some houses for the employer within 42 days. This date was missed and when asked by the employer whether it would take one, two or three months to complete, the contractor said that he could not say.  The contractor continued with the work and two weeks later the employer ejected him from site.

The Court held that the employer had no right to do so because he had failed to inform the contractor that he treated such a response as a refusal to carry out the work and he should not have waited two weeks.  Essentially, the employer must act quickly and communicate any dissatisfaction with the contractor’s performance.

If a builder or contractor is wrongly expelled from a building site without a lawful reason and which renders completion of the contract impossible, this would amount to a repudiatory breach of contract.  In such a situation the builder or contractor would be entitled to recover the agreed sums of the uncompleted works from the employer.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who are in dispute with their builder or contractor.  If you would like any advice regarding a building or construction dispute, then call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.  

Nobody wants to become involved in litigation but when a dispute arises with your builder or contractor you need to have followed these simple steps to help you get through the process and maximise your chance of a successful resolution.


Hayley Prideaux
Hayley Prideaux
Solicitor & Estate & Trust Dispute Specialist
  • Put your grievances in writing - Even if there has been little or no written correspondence between you and the builder or contactor beforehand, you should put your grievances in writing and give them a chance to respond.  This may help to prove that your actions were reasonable if the case reaches court as well as providing a record of the discussions taking place.

  • Make contemporaneous notes - This may be the best way to record things which are otherwise not in writing.  For example if you consider that the builder is behaving in an unreasonable manner or that aspects of their work or working practices are unsatisfactory, record WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHO while your recollection is fresh.  You should also make notes of any telephone conversations between you and the builder or contractor as a record of important discussions, for example if you have asked the builder or contractor to undertake additional work.

  • Take photos of the work undertaken – photographic evidence will be of great assistance in showing defective work or the stage the work has reached.  It may be particularly important to show the stage the work has reached if subsequent works or alterations are likely to take place.  If the dispute progresses it is likely expert evidence will be required and contemporaneous photographs may be of great assistance to expert witnesses.

  • Do not commence remedial works - If the builder or contractor leaves the site or refuses to undertake any further work, do not commence remedial works until you have sought legal advice from us.  It is likely that expert evidence will be required and you risk losing vital evidence if remedial works are undertaken at an early stage and you may prejudice your own claim.

  • Keep calm and collected - This may help to take some of the “heat” out of the dispute and avoid any unnecessary breakdown of the working relationship with your builder or contractor.

  • Keep receipts and invoices - You may think that this is obvious, but if the dispute is in relation to amounts claimed or the cost of remedial work, accurate details of the amounts involved will be essential evidence to support your claim. Similarly, if further work is required ensure you obtain a fully itemised estimate from your builder or contractor in relation to the work.

  • Pay your builder by credit card - if you continue to make payments to your builder or contractor and you are able to pay by credit card, you may be afforded protection by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if the builder or contractor later refuses to settle your claim.

We can Help

At McMillan Williams, we provide strategic and pragmatic advice to prevent problems escalating into significant disputes.  We act decisively to achieve the best possible results for our clients whatever the size or nature of the dispute, whilst always striving to achieve the earliest possible resolution without the need to issue formal proceedings.

If you need any assistance in dealing with a builder or contractor or if your project is not progressing in the way you had hoped, call our team of experienced solicitors on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Disputes are undesirable for any individual or business, but even with careful planning they cannot always be avoided. We understand the disruption caused to households and businesses when building works go wrong and we understand you will want any issues resolved to your satisfaction as quickly and cost effectively as possible.


Hayley Prideaux
Hayley Prideaux
Solicitor & Estate & Trust Dispute Specialist

At McMillan Williams, we provide strategic and pragmatic advice to prevent problems escalating into significant disputes. We act decisively to achieve the best possible results for our clients whatever the size or nature of the dispute, whilst always striving to achieve the earliest possible resolution without the need to issue formal proceedings. 

We understand the complexities of construction disputes and are familiar with industry standard-form documents, such as JCT Standard Building Contracts. We also have experience of liaising with the NHBC and interpreting/enforcing the provisions of the NHBC Buildmark policy.

However, if court proceedings are necessary, our team of tenacious lawyers will ensure your interests are represented and protected at all times.

There are a number of ways in which building and construction disputes can be funded, which do not require you to privately fund the costs up front:

Insurance

Sometimes you will have insurance contained on your existing insurance policies (such as household or car insurance) which would cover a dispute with a builder/contractor. This means your insurers would pay our legal costs. However, often your insurers will insist you use one of their selected solicitors who are unlikely to be specialist lawyers and they may therefore not achieve the best result for your case.  You should therefore call or email us for a FREE CASE REVIEW if you think you may have insurance to cover a building/construction claim so that we can liaise with your insurers and ensure they pay our legal costs and thus, allow you to choose us as your specialist lawyers.

‘No Win No Fee’ Agreements

This is an agreement whereby we only get paid if we succeed on your claim (when we also then recover a success fee). If we don’t succeed, we waive our legal costs.  Changes in the government’s rules surrounding ‘no win no fee’ agreements (which came into force in April 2013) have made these agreements more complicated, so call or email us today for your FREE CASE REVIEW and we will be happy to explain how these agreements work.

Damages Based Agreement

We are now able to offer this type of agreement as a result of the government changes to funding in April 2013. This agreement is also contingent upon our succeeding on your case (as for a ‘no win no fee’ agreement) but in this circumstance we would recover a percentage of your award rather than our base costs plus success fee.  Call or email us today for your FREE CASE REVIEW and we will be happy to explain how these agreements work.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" not just to those who can afford it.  If you are involved in a building or construction dispute or concerned about the way a project is progressing, and you are worried about your ability to pay fees, call our team of experienced solicitors today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

What is ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a growing trend in the modern legal climate.  Parties in dispute are encouraged to use methods of ADR to attempt to resolve their claims before (and hopefully without the need to) go to trial. 


Hayley Prideaux
Hayley Prideaux
Solicitor & Estate & Trust Dispute Specialist

In fact in recent cases the Courts have gone as far as telling parties that they should always attempt ADR before going to trial unless there is a very good reason not to, otherwise the Court will make costs orders against those parties who refused or ignored an invitation to enter into ADR.

Mediation

Mediation is the most well-known form of ADR and you may have experienced or heard of mediation in cases of divorce.

However, civil claims use a different type of mediation in which you attend with a lawyer present and you do not need to sit in a room with your opponent if you don’t want to. 

Mediation is available to parties either before or during court proceedings or arbitration.  The mediator is a facilitator and does not need to reach a decision on the merits of the case, he only seeks to assist the parties to reach a settlement agreement.

The mediation process is entirely voluntary, meaning that if the parties agree to it then it is often a good indication that they wish to resolve matters without the need for a trial. 

The Benefits of Mediation

Our specialist building and construction dispute lawyers are keen advocates of the mediation process and there are several benefits of mediation such as:

  • It saves considerable time

  • It is less stressful and more convenient than taking a case to court
     
  • It saves money by not going to trial which can be extremely expensive.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and Mediation is just one of the pragmatic and cost effective options we recommend to clients.  If you think you may be in dispute with your builder and would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW or if you just want to talk to one of our specialist solicitors then call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

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