Several attorneys within the Group hold engineering or technical degrees, with extensive construction and environmental experience providing clients “value added” insight as well as providing day-to-day advice on all legal issues affecting the construction process.
Our Construction Law service offering includes:
Drafting and Negotiating Agreements
A major part of the Group’s practice is focused upon prevention and resolution of disputes by working with clients before and during construction. On a daily basis, our Group reviews, edits, drafts and negotiates commercial and industrial construction agreements for private and public owners, general contractors, and other parties engaged in construction projects. Efforts are made to lessen the possibility of disputes through effective contract drafting and subsequent monitoring of areas of potential dispute during the course of construction. The Group reviews and/or develops agreements that further our client’s construction objectives, such as, having projects in on time and under budget. Moreover, agreements drafted by the Group help provide and maintain procedures and responsibilities during design and construction, which promotes certainty, productivity, and progress. When disputes arise, efforts are immediately undertaken to find and implement creative solutions as an alternative to arbitration or litigation.
Most notably, in an effort led by Scott Cahalan, the Group drafted two nationally-used standard forms of agreements between Owners and Contractors for the Associated Owners and Developers (“AOD”). The AOD’s standard form agreements change the way in which standard form agreements are used on construction projects by focusing their primary interest on the welfare of the Project as a whole. By way of example, they require the parties to communicate and cooperate to avoid or mitigate the impacts of claims by demanding early and full disclosure to give the parties a better and more immediate understanding of the facts giving rise to a claim.
Monitoring Projects During Construction and Avoiding Disputes
A small amount of time spent by our lawyers during the course of construction can help clients avoid arbitration or litigation. By assisting our clients with matters relating to contracts, increased scope of work, notice, workmanship, project delays, disruptions, work stoppage, and termination, among other issues, the Group’s involvement often diminishes the impact of disputes on construction productivity and costs.
Advising On Issues During Project Close-Out
The Group views the goals for completion of its clients’ projects to include the following objectives: (1) on-time project delivery at or under budget; (2) high quality workmanship and materials; (3) lien-free projects; and (4) close-out without the need for arbitration or litigation. We strive to provide legal services that achieve these objectives in a cost effective manner. Most of the issues that disrupt successful close-out on a project can be addressed in the contract documents, and the Group believes strongly in utilizing comprehensive, well-coordinated contract documents among all parties to the project.
All attorneys in the Group are trial lawyers. Our lawyers have tried and arbitrated cases in nearly every state in the nation as well as cases arising from disputes in Germany, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Korea, Mexico, Japan, The Bahamas, and China.
Examples of Cases Recently Handled by SGR’s Construction Litigation Team:
- The Group won a precedent-setting verdict on behalf of a French contractor against the House of Commons in a landmark case brought in England, which challenged the award of a multimillion dollar contract to build the new Parliament offices. In a case of first impression, and after a trial of several months, a British court enforced a European Community Law prohibiting one member nation from discriminating against a business from another member nation.
- The Group successfully settled, during the arbitration hearing itself, a massive international dispute involving three million documents, dozens of witnesses, and multiple parties. The Group effectively represented a multinational contractor in a large-scale $150 million dispute involving the construction of a series of chemical plants. That matter began with claims asserted in three different continents in proceedings that covered the spectrum of mediation, arbitration and litigation. The Group successfully negotiated a consolidation of all the disputes into a single arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce, which ultimately led to a successful settlement of the case.
- The Group settled claims on behalf of a major general contractor against developers of a hotel and condominium project for extra costs and delays incurred as a result of design changes to the project generally and tenant changes to the individual condominium units. The Group initially negotiated the contract and drafted documents on behalf of the general contractor. Based upon contract language that had been included to anticipate problems of this sort, the general contractor was in a position to recover losses due to these problems through settlement, thus avoiding the need to proceed with arbitration hearings.
- In a three-week bench trial in Federal Court representing a large ship building company against the United States Navy, the Group successfully proved that a cardinal change existed on a contract with the Navy to overhaul two frigates.
- The Group successfully settled a federal case on behalf of a paving contractor on a runway construction project for a major southwest airport. Payment of a sizeable amount from the airport authority to the paving contractor was made prior to the trial.
- In a highly complex federal case that involved the construction of a one-of-a-kind municipal building designed for educational and tourism purposes, the Group negotiated a very favorable settlement for its client over the course of a three-day mediation in which the client’s continued economic viability was at stake.
- The Group was successful against a major university’s Board of Regents in a two-week bench trial involving delays, change orders and inefficiency claims on an historic renovation.