Construction Contract Disputes & The Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes

Pure Business Law are specialists in construction disputes and contract drafting.

Construction disputes can be legally and technically complex . We are experienced in handling construction disputes for construction companies, surveyors, consulting engineers , contractors and employers. We are experienced in:

  1. Works defects;

  2. Loss and expense;

  3. Claims against the employer;

  4. Non-payment by the employer;

  5. Extensions of time;

  6. Delays in completion of works ;

  7. Practical completion;

  8. Defects liability period;

  9. Adjudication;

  10. Mediation;

  11. Litigation;

  12. Arbitration; and

  13. Technology and construction court claims.

Has your builder disappeared without completing the works?

Do you feel your building work has not been completed completely or correctly?

Is the work taking too long to complete?

Are the works of low quality?

Have you been charged more than your builder or contractor told you would be charged?

We can help at any stage of the process, from preparation of contracts prior to entry into the contract, during the life of the project or at project end if a building dispute arises. Our lawyers will assist you in resolving your construction disputes. Having your contracts drafted by a specialist construction professional is important as many construction disputes arise from badly drafted contracts or ambiguous contract clauses.

Our clients

We are experienced in working with parties involved in construction work under the standard form contracts like JCT, NEC, ICE, FIDIC, MF/1, .   Our clients include, landlords and tenants, owners, occupiers, developers, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and manufacturers of equipment. Delays and low-quality work cost money and can lead to difficulties in reaching a successful outcome.

Fixed fee construction solicitors

Contract Reviews:

We offer a simple fixed fee service for reviewing your construction contracts. We will check your draft contract and highlight clauses or areas of concern that may result in the exposure of your business to risk and  financial costs.

​Our specialist construction lawyers can review:

  • Your letters of appointment and building contracts

  • Contract novation and assignments

  • Commercial and residential construction agreements

  • Bonds, warranties and guarantees

  • Compliance updates and issues

  • Reasonable exclusion and limitation clauses

  • Risk management

Our specialist construction solicitors can:

  • Prepare Terms of Business (protective) to cover your commercial construction projects - (fixed fees);

  • Advise on Construction disputes - (fixed fees);

  • Handle your construction litigation - (fixed fees and hourly rates);

  • Prepare bespoke business and employment policies to cover areas such as Anti-bribery, Equality and the Modern Slavery Act - (fixed fees);

  • Deal with your unpaid invoices and debt recovery (fixed fees);

  • Provide general legal advice for sole traders in the building field and tradespeople- (fixed fees); and

  • Advise on construction adjudication, mediation and arbitration- (fixed fees)

What is the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes (aka Construction disputes Protocol)?

When does the Protocol apply?

The "Pre-action Protocol for Construction Disputes and Engineering Disputes" covers all construction and engineering disputes including professional negligence claims against construction professionals eg engineers, surveyors and engineers.

The Protocol set standards which the parties to a construction or engineering dispute are expected to adhere to before a claimant issues legal proceedings. It encourages the parties to exchange information early on and consider using alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve a construction dispute rather than incurring unnecessary legal costs on a matter that could have been resolved without the issue of legal proceedings.

There is a separate Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence disputes against professionals other than construction professions.

The Protocol provides a number of steps for parties to follow before they litigate a construction dispute. These steps are designed to avoid unnecessary litigation proceedings and the incurring of unnecessary legal costs.

It is in the parties interests to follow these steps. Whilst it is not compulsory for parties to a construction dispute to follow the Pre-action protocol you may be penalised by the Court if you did not follow the protocol before issuing legal proceedings. We therefore always advise our clients to follow the Pre-action Protocol.

The Pre-Action Protocol can be found by clicking here. Whilst we recommend that you read the Protocol fully, you may decide no to do so. We have therefore provided a summary of the Protocol for your guidance.

Time limits

Construction disputes can arise several years after the completion of a project.

If you are a claimant, you must ensure you bring your claim within the applicable “Limitation period”. Where the construction contract has been executed as a deed the limitation period to bring a claim for breach of contract is 12 years from the date of breach of the contract.

If you are a defendant it is important to be aware of the time limits as the Protocol stipulates strict compliance with the prescribed time limits: eg the defendant must acknowledge the letter of claim within 14 days of receipt and provide a substantive response letter within 28 days of receipt. The parties must meet within 21 days after receipt of the response letter or if there is a counterclaim 21 days after receipt of the claimant’s letter of response to the counterclaim. The Protocol also provides that the parties may agree extensions of time for compliance with any of the prescribed steps however no extension can exceed 28 days in total.

The complexity of your dispute will dictate the complexity of the issues involved. If it is as simple as a dispute with a builder for the cost of building work completed by the builder, your claim may be straightforward. However, as the details become more complex, the methods of resolution may also increase in complexity. Ideally you should read the Our first step when you instruct us is to try to negotiate a resolution of the dispute. 5-

Pre-Protocol stage

Check the Contract : Before triggering the Protocol by sending a Protocol Letter in compliance with the Pre-action Protocol, you must check your contract carefully and in particular the contractual provisions governing the resolution of disputes.

Even if the dispute resolution requirements in the contract are not mandatory it is advisable to exhaust them before triggering the Protocol as it may be a cheaper and quicker dispute resolution process.

If the requirements are mandatory eg the dispute must be determined by an adjudicator as a pre-condition to any court action, you must complete all the steps of the contractual dispute resolution process before issuing your Protocol Letter of Claim as failure to do so can result in the court granting a stay of proceedings and ordering the claimant to complete the prescribed steps before coming back to court.

Pre-Action Protocol stage

What are the requirements of the Protocol?