The European Court has upheld the long-standing principle that parties to a dispute should be able to choose their lawyers without having to go through a tender process (or use a framework).
Social housing providers will routinely have a number of construction projects underway at any one time. Whether building new properties or undertaking gas servicing, responsive repairs, aids and adaptations or planned preventative maintenance, it is essential for client teams to understand and avoid key contract management pitfalls.
Unfortunately, disputes are a common occurrence on construction projects and it can require significant time and money to address disputes with contractors or consultants, as well as complaints from residents or the wider public. At a time of increasingly strained budgets, those unexpected costs can be difficult to absorb and will obviously be unwelcome.
In our experience, many disputes can be avoided if client teams are aware of key contract management pitfalls and ensure their effective navigation through training and support. We have found that many disputes arise through misunderstandings and ambiguity around how the parties apply the contract terms to manage the contract effectively. The good news for those looking to deliver construction projects is that you can manage problems by learning how to avoid a number of pitfalls, such as:
- Administering payment mechanisms effectively and consistently;
- Issuing change instructions that capture the full details of the change in a clear and fully detailed manner;
- Ensuring that any variations to the contractual terms are set out in clear terms and in writing; and
- Administering final account mechanisms effectively and consistently.
Whilst no two disputes are identical, our experience shows that addressing these potential contract management pitfalls can help to mitigate the risk of disputes and can also place clients on a sound footing to resolve disputes when they do arise.
Introducing our contract management training programme
This ebriefing marks the start of a series, where each month we will focus in detail on a specific contract management pitfall.
In the meantime, many of you will be aware that we regularly deliver contract management and dispute resolution training sessions. If you have any questions regarding the issues raised in this ebriefing or would like to find out more about our bespoke client training programme, please contact Kieran Binnie or Andrew Lancaster.
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In the second part of our series on contract management pitfalls, we look at the risks and opportunities presented by payment mechanisms in construction contracts.
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