Over this past summer, our colleague Mario R. Nicholas penned an article for the Daily Journal of Commerce entitled “Can Artificial Intelligence Be Trusted to Draft a Construction Contract?”  It is a great read, and we borrow from it here in many places.

In his article, Mario principally focused on why chatbots like

Construction contracts generally outline when and how contractors should notify parties about potential claims for additional compensation and/or time. These provisions are intended to provide project stakeholders with the information necessary to address unforeseen circumstances and streamline claim resolutions within the project rather than resorting to legal actions. However, in some cases, the contract provisions

In their focus on starting a construction project, developers, designers, and contractors can fall prey to unintended consequences arising from their deferral to and use of an “industry standard” contract form—as opposed to taking the time to precisely tailor the contract to the project’s needs and risks. In my latest article for the Daily Journal

In the construction industry, “retainage”—the practice of withholding by an owner or contractor a portion of the funds that are due to a contractor or subcontractor for a construction project until its completion—is a term frequently negotiated in contracts for private construction projects as a means to mitigate the risk of default since the monies

Many standard construction contracts include a placeholder for incentives for a contractor that completes a new project on time and under budget. Possible rewards include early completion bonuses and/or sharing in the project savings, if any, which can be calculated in several ways. In my latest article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I

The party responding to a proposed design or construction contract may satisfy itself that the contract proposes arbitration or litigation to resolve any disputes and leave it at that—as long as the method of resolution is generally aligned with the party’s preferences. In order to eliminate surprises for their clients if a dispute arises and

A construction project can be delayed for a multitude of reasons. Where the cause of the delay is not force majeure, or other excusable delay by a contractor, and where the contractor has some fault, what level of actions must a contractor take to satisfy the terms “best efforts” or “reasonable efforts” or “commercially reasonable

When reviewing a proposed design or construction contract, the responding party will often do a cursory check to see whether the contract proposes arbitration or litigation for dispute resolution. So long as the proposed method generally aligns with that party’s preferences, it will not look further at the specifics of the proposed process. For the uninitiated, this can lead to surprises when a dispute arises, especially when it comes to issues like whether the arbitration will be held before a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators, the rules that will apply to the arbitration, and the scope of discovery.

Construction and design attorneys, on the other hand, spend many working hours (and sometimes nonworking hours) contemplating these exact issues. I have developed a checklist of items that I advise my clients to consider in their arbitration provisions. The combined goal of these considerations is eliminating surprises if a dispute arises and balancing efficiency with the desire for a fair process. Typically, that checklist includes the following topics:

  • Rules applicable to the arbitration
  • Single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators?
  • Scope of discovery
  • Maximizing opportunity for resolution in a single proceeding

The full article, including details on each of these topics can be found at What Parties Ought To Consider When Considering Arbitration Provisions | Stoel Rives LLP.

This article was originally published in by the Daily Journal of Commerce on April 20, 2023.

In a world of pure cooperation, if the owner of a construction project or a contractor causes a problem, the responsible party would admit fault and make amends—rendering the negotiation of a construction contract unnecessary. In our less than ideal world, owners and contractors have adverse interests, the party at fault is not always clear