20 February 2020

Dodgy construction to spark ‘legal hangover’

This article was originally published by Emma Ryan for Smart Property Investment on 19 February 2020. It also appears in a Build Australia article titled "Building sector faces 10 year litigation hangover".

Poor construction undertaken recently is set to create a 10-year backlog of litigation claims, according to a local lawyer.

Bartier Perry partner Robert Kalde said the building sector’s recent display of poor or dodgy construction will result in the industry getting a “legal hangover” that will last for the next 10 years at least.

“Given the current backlog and pace of litigation, I think you are looking at 10 years minimum,” Mr Kalde said.

“Downturns or slowdowns in the sector have historically seen an uptick in litigation. Given the recent publicity around issues such as cladding and build quality, we’re seeing the industry facing a rush in litigants who are keen to assert their position in court.”

Mr Kalde, who has over 20 years of experience advising on commercial and construction disputes, noted that the backlog is being heightened due to the construction boom, which has occurred in the Australian property market in recent years.

If they’re not already, developers and builders will need to be looking at where potential claims might come from and prepare for how they will respond, the lawyer explained.

“It may grate with some developers, but mediation or early settlement are options that always should be considered over lengthy litigation,” Mr Kalde said.

“There will be instances though where they will feel they must defend their position in court. The trick is knowing which path to take.”

“Builders like building fences, not people who sit on them, so we look to provide advice that is directional and commercial rather than a recital of the law.”