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Involved in a construction or engineering dispute? Make sure you know what you must do

When things go wrong on a construction or engineering project and a dispute seems unavoidable, it can be an extremely worrying time.

However, there is a clearly defined and set process both parties in any dispute are legally obliged to follow before any court proceedings are issued.

This is known as the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes, aimed at streamlining and speeding up the legal process as well as helping to keep costs down.

Who does the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes apply to?

The protocol applies to all construction and engineering disputes including building and construction disputes, claims by or against surveyors and architects as well as claims relating to the quality of materials used or work undertaken.

The aim is to encourage both parties to sit down together, set out their respective cases and exchange information so they better understand each other’s position.

The hope is that the key issues can be pinpointed and focused on, the potential to settle the dispute examined as well as any ways it might be resolved without starting court proceedings – for instance, by using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

How do I comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes?

We can talk you through the details but, in brief, the steps are as follows:

  1. The claimant serves a Letter of Claim outlining the nature of the case and a brief summary of the claim or claims;
  2. The defendant acknowledges receipt of the Letter of Claim;
  3. The defendant serves a Letter of Response;
  4. The claimant serves a response to the counterclaim.

If there is no counterclaim, both parties then attend a pre-action meeting. The aim is to find a way to a settlement without litigation but if this isn’t possible, the emphasis moves to how to deal with the case justly and at proportionate cost.

Are there penalties if we don’t follow the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes?

Yes, there could be. If a party does not engage or comply with the protocol, there is a risk of costs being ordered by the court at a later date.


Get in touch

Wards Solicitors’ James Murray is a specialist in this area of the law. For more information about the Pre-Action Protocol and on construction and engineering disputes generally, click here for private clients and here for business clients.

Email James: James.Murray@wards.uk.com

Phone James: 01934 413535

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