Duff & Childs’ Construction Practice provides efficient and high quality legal service to assist those involved in construction projects. Our attorneys can assist in all phases of construction – RFPs, bidding, contract award and monitoring. We have seen how projects work well, and we have helped resolve problems. From inception through close-out, our attorneys can assist clients in all aspects of instruction including providing counsel on labor and employment matters, drafting and negotiating contracts for various project delivery systems, and assisting in project administration and procurement.
We endeavor to minimize expenses and litigation by highlighting delay and claim prevention practices, risk management, planning, and early intervention. But, if a dispute arises, our attorneys are ready to assist and resolve issues before they result in protracted litigation. In the event of litigation, our attorneys use their skills in mediation, arbitration and litigation to develop, present and defend construction claims. Types of claims include contract disputes, change orders, delays, unforeseen conditions, workmanship and construction defects, among others. Our firm’s goal is to assist our clients in achieving the best, and most beneficial result.
Arbitration and Mediation
The Construction industry has always favored the use of mediation or other alternative methods of dispute resolution as opposed to litigation. AIA and other industry contracts will promote and at times require Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve claims and other disputes. South Carolina and other courts are beginning to require ADR as a tool to reduce the amount of litigation in the court system. Our construction practice remains up to date on the newest methods to resolve disputes and regularly uses that knowledge and experience to represent clients before arbitration panels, mediators and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Bid Protests and Bid Mistakes
Whether the owner is a public or private entity, the bid process can bring about a variety of legal issues. From bid calculation or “responsibility” determinations, all parties must ensure compliance with the requirements provided in the invitation for bids or the applicable procurement code. A successful contractor may have difficulty enforcing a subcontractor’s bid due to a mistake or other issue. Duff & Childs has the experience and knowledge to represent our clients in bid matters. We advise clients from the outset by reviewing proposals for compliance with applicable procurement requirements to award. If a bid protest is filed, we advocate our clients’ interests before procurement review boards and other entities.
Construction Claim and Contract Dispute Resolution
Duff & Childs’ attorneys counsel clients in contract disputes and claims over interpretation. We review contracts and advise clients on risk reducing strategies. The majority of construction cases involve the interpretation of provisions within the construction contract. For that reason, we actively collaborate with our clients to ensure they enter into legally enforceable agreements. If a dispute arises, our team is fully prepared to advocate the interests of our clients. Claims over contract interpretation often involve complex issues, including issue of notice, damages, payment, indemnity, and allocation of risks. Our understanding of the issues raised in contract claims assists us in providing clients with the best way to reach a resolution.
Contract Preparation and Negotiation
The first step to evaluating any construction claim is to review the contract. The contract creates the basis and controls the majority of relationships in construction projects. All parties’ intentions and agreed upon goals must be clearly drafted in the construction contract. There are many standard commercial contracts which may be used in projects, but these forms simply do not meet the needs and intentions of each party on every project and could require substantial modifications to protect clients’ interests. Our attorneys have the experience to draft, modify, and customize contracts to meet the specific needs of its clients. Duff & Childs understands the construction industry and knows how to apply the various legal principles governing construction matters. We have the ability and knowledge to advise our clients on drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts. We pride ourselves on being able to minimize our clients’ exposure to litigation while minimizing their legal expenses, and in doing so we regularly advise clients to ensure they take careful consideration in entering into appropriate construction contracts.
When litigation becomes inevitable, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to advocate our clients’ interests in state and federal court. Our attorneys have experience litigating claims brought by or against owners, developers, contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, suppliers, manufacturers, design professionals, and sureties. The phrase “time is of the essence” generally applies to most construction projects. Duff & Childs’ attorneys efficiently and competently works toward a resolution most advantageous to our clients.
Public and Government Procurement
South Carolina governmental agencies such as school districts and local municipalities are mandated to adopt competitive procurement requirements for construction projects. The South Carolina Consolidated Procurement Code is the playbook by which all contractors and government agencies must comply and presents many unique statutory and regulatory issues. Duff & Childs has the expertise and familiarity to assist clients engaging in governmental procurement at the local, state, and federal levels. The attorneys of Duff & Childs have represented governmental agencies in procurement issues for over 20 years and are well versed in procurement laws and procedures. We provide counsel in all stages of the procurement process from the initial solicitation to project close-out. We understand the special requirements of the government and its agencies and can assist clients in contract negotiations, regulatory compliance and, when necessary, contract litigation.
Termination and Default
Terminations and defaults will bring about many issues in a project and present difficult decisions whether you are the owner, the general contractor, or a subcontractor. The costs of a wrongful termination and the effects of mitigating the default through a surety contractor can overwhelm a project. Despite the challenges associated with termination, there are instances where terminating the contract is the proper approach to a situation such as where the owner is wrongfully withholding payments, the contractor is failing to adhere to critical schedules, or the contractor’s quality of work is inferior. Duff & Childs’ attorneys have the experience and knowledge to navigate these situations and advise clients on the proper course to proceed.