Legal services and the law have continuously evolved over the years. From general umbrella laws to now highly specialized fields, it’s not uncommon for a lawyer to have an area of expertise in terms of the law that they practice.
There are many different specializations a legal professional could choose to specialize in, including but not limited to:
- Family law
- Employment Law
- Business Law
- Commercial Law
- Criminal Law
- Construction Law
Each of these areas of the law requires extensive knowledge to ensure the needs of clients on any side of a dispute are able to be understood and well represented.
When you’re involved in a dispute that requires legal representation, it’s best to ensure that you’re choosing to work with a lawyer that actually specializes in that field, because the knowledge required for the various legal specializations is complex.
In this piece, we’re going to focus on the field of construction law. Our aim is to explain what construction law is, the areas it covers, and the reasons why you may need a construction lawyer.
The Construction Industry in Australia
The building and construction industry in Australia is huge. It’s one of the biggest generators of revenue – producing around $360 billion of Gross Domestic Product – which is about 9% of the total Gross Domestic Product.
When you think of construction, you probably picture the builders and machinery used to actually build buildings and homes, but the construction industry incorporates many different professionals including:
- Project Managers
- Architects and Designers
- Contract Administrators
- Urban Planners
More than 1.15 million Australians work in the construction industry, which is about 9% of the total adult population, and as the industry continues to grow, this number will only increase.
With the vast number of careers involved in the industry and the large contribution the industry makes overall, it’s clear to see why construction law is a highly complex and important legal specialization.
What is Construction Law?
In Australia, Construction Law is quite a broad area of the law and incorporates laws across all levels of government, including local, state and federal levels.
These laws pertain to various activities that can occur throughout the course of a construction project. Some of the common activities or areas of a construction project that are covered by construction law include:
- Employment of workers
- Safety of workers
- Planning and development of applications
- Environmental and Zoning
- Licenses and registration
- Contract drafting and negotiation
- Payments and debt recovery
- Defects and defaults
- Dispute resolution
It’s also common for each of the various activities to be covered by a mixture of local, state and federal construction laws.
As you can see, construction law covers a wide range of areas and potential legal issues that can arise during a construction project.
As this breadth of areas is quite wide, and there are many different workers in the construction industry, it’s easy to see why a construction lawyer requires such vast knowledge.
What does a construction lawyer in Australia actually do?
Every construction project, no matter how big or small, will involve activities that are affected by construction law.
Many people see the role of a lawyer, any lawyer that is, not just a construction lawyer, as being the person who goes into battle when a problem arises. And while this is an important role of a lawyer, their role is a lot more multi-faceted, and they can essentially help at any point of a construction project’s lifecycle.
The role of your construction lawyer is to be able to advise on how the law affects your project and help to prevent issues from arising in your project or if an issue has arisen, they can help you to resolve the dispute as swiftly as possible.
A construction lawyer should be able to help you navigate through and balance the various construction law issues of a project and essentially help to reduce the risk of your project overall.
It’s also important to note that a construction lawyer works with all sorts of people involved in construction projects, including building and development companies, contractors, suppliers and homeowners/property owners.
When might I need a construction lawyer?
As we touched on above, a construction lawyer can help at essentially any point of a construction project. Some of the common reasons or scenarios someone might consider engaging with a construction lawyer include:
- Has not been paid for goods you’ve supplied
- Has not been paid for your services
- You’re a contractor or sub-contractor whose quality of work has been complained of
- You’re a homeowner negotiating a contract for a building project and you need advice
- The building project has been delayed
- Building company has become insolvent
- You’re a building company that needs to negotiate necessary changes to work
These are only some of the scenarios that you may need to engage a construction lawyer in. As we mentioned earlier, there are a large number of professionals and areas that are affected by construction law, so it’s important to work with a legal professional throughout any construction project.
Whether you’re a homeowner building a new home, the head of a construction company that has run into financial difficulties or anyone involved in a construction project, working with an experienced construction lawyer can not only help you resolve disputes that may arise but also help to prevent them from occurring in the first place. They are vital to ensuring your building project goes off without a hitch.
If you want to become a construction lawyer in Australia, we wish you the best.