What Is the Difference Between Conflicts and Disputes in Construction Law?

Feb 26 2024      On Behalf of  David M. Duree & Associates, P.C.      Construction And Engineering Disputes

Few construction projects finish without problems, whether it’s building delays, permitting issues, or design difficulties. But when these issues escalate to legal action, they can wreak havoc on a project or derail it entirely.

The key to a smooth construction project is understanding the difference between conflicts and disputes and managing the former to avoid the latter. 

Conflicts vs. Disputes in Construction Projects

There is no universal definition of a conflict vs. a dispute in construction law, but the distinction boils down to whether the issue requires a resolution through the legal system. A conflict is any disagreement among the parties involved in a construction project — contractors, designers, architects, property owners, etc. These conflicts may concern anything from project timelines and costs to the quality of work or the interpretation of contract terms.

In contrast, a dispute happens when one of the disagreeing parties decides to take a formal step to resolve the conflict. This could mean going into mediation to talk it out with a neutral third party, heading into arbitration to let someone outside the court system decide the issue, or jumping into litigation.

Conflicts Are Inevitable in Construction Law; Disputes Are Not

All the parties involved in a construction project have different goals and priorities, which means conflicts are inevitable. However, properly managing conflicts can help prevent them from becoming costly, time-consuming legal disputes. Some ways to manage conflicts in construction projects include:

  • Clear Communication: Ensure open and transparent communication among all parties from the outset. Regular meetings and updates can help address concerns before they grow into larger issues.
  • Detailed Contracts: Draft comprehensive contracts that clearly outline the scope of work, payment schedules, timelines, and procedures for handling changes or unexpected issues.
  • Dispute Resolution Clauses: Include dispute resolution clauses in contracts to specify how to address conflicts.
  • Early Intervention: Address conflicts as soon as they arise. Ignoring small issues can lead to bigger problems and potential disputes down the line.
  • Risk Management: Implement a risk management plan to identify potential sources of conflict early on and develop strategies to mitigate them.
  • Legal Advice: Consult legal professionals experienced in construction law to understand your rights and obligations. They can offer guidance on managing conflicts and preventing disputes.

Construction Conflicts and Disputes We Can Help With

The Illinois and Missouri construction lawyers at David M. Duree & Associates have over 40 years of legal experience and have helped resolve many construction conflicts and disputes. 

Some conflicts and disputes we can help with include:

  • Delay claims
  • Payment disputes
  • Construction defect claims
  • Change order disputes
  • Scope of work disagreements
  • Warranty claims
  • Bond claims
  • Insurance coverage disputes
  • Employment and labor issues
  • Environmental compliance disputes
  • Licensing issues
  • Construction lien claims
  • Safety and health violations
  • Architectural and engineering errors and omissions

Contact Our Missouri and Illinois Construction Lawyers Now

Our firm can help manage conflicts on your Illinois or Missouri construction project and keep them from escalating into formal disputes. Call David M. Duree & Associates today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.