The introduction of the Construction Contracts Act in 2003 substantially changed the construction industry, mostly for the positive. Kensington Swan led the way with seminars prior to the Act coming into force, with proactive advice since its introduction, and is at the forefront in developing case law and submissions to the Department for Building and Housing.
Kensington Swan has the largest specialist construction and infrastructure team in New Zealand. We provide quality advice and get results quickly. Our lawyers have advised on claims up to $60 million. We have assisted with single payment claim disputes and cases involving more than 300 individual claims.
Compliance with the Act increases your cash flow and reduces risk, but can be complicated. We appreciate that issues can occur at any stage of a project which is why we provide advice on all aspects of the law, including:
- drafting contract terms (with a focus on the payment process)
- compliance with the Act (with a focus on payment claims and schedules, service, and due dates)
- debts due under the Act
- suspension of works
- adjudications, and enforcement of determinations and judgments
- recovery, including charging orders and writs of sale
- judicial review and interim relief.
Adjudications under the Act are the main form of dispute resolution in the construction industry. The Act sets strict timeframes for compliance, meaning legal expertise and resources must be available at short notice. We have extensive experience in prosecuting and defending adjudication claims for a wide range of clients.
Development of the law
We are leaders in the development of the law under the Act, having acted in numerous significant cases contributing to its interpretation, including:
- Redhill Developments (NZ) Limited & Ors v Green and HEB Contractors Limited
- Laywood and Rees v Holmes Construction Wellington Limited
- Greys Avenue Investments Limited v Harbour Construction Limited
- Construct Interiors Limited v Jones and KMB Interior Contracts Limited
- Bentzen Farms Limited v Bayley and Donovan Drainage & Earthmoving Limited.
Major construction company
Our client was a respondent in a $4.5 million claim for civil works for a new prison. Kensington Swan gained a four-week extension to the response timeframe, allowing time for a formulation of a comprehensive response answering over 300 claims. As a result, the adjudication claim was defeated, avoiding a substantial debt to the head contractor.
The contractor building temporary facilities at a stadium made a $1.7 million final account claim against the Council. We successfully defended multiple claims over a Christmas-New Year period, and the Council was able to take over and complete the remaining works without further payment to the contractor. The stadium was then able to be used for an international sporting competition.
Petrochemical construction company
Our international client faced unresolved claims totalling $60 million for delays, disruption and variations, with adjudication proceedings issued covering these disputes. We provided strategic advice that led to a speedy resolution of complex issues, avoiding protracted international arbitration proceedings. This involved successfully defending two High Court challenges to the jurisdiction of the adjudicator. The claims were referred to mediation with a successful outcome for our client.
Civil construction company
This international civil construction company received five adjudication claims for critical piling works as part of a State Highway 1 motorway widening contract. The claims totalled $2.5 million and the works were delayed and incomplete. Working under extraordinary time constraints, we provided advice that saw the first claim defeated, the contractor terminated, and a replacement contracted to finish the works. The remaining four claims were consolidated and resolved, within budget, for a fraction of the claimed amount.
Our client faced final account claims totalling $1.5 million for the construction of a five-star hotel. Kensington Swan defended the claims and the parties settled the disputes through negotiation on terms very favourable to our client. The hotel opened on time and without disruption to its operations.
Related legal services
Construction dispute management
Major building projects