Providing pragmatic advice,
focusing on the issues that matter.

Construction & Development

We have the expertise and tenacity to deliver the best possible outcomes for you.  Our Construction & Development team has proven expertise in the construction and property development sector. We act for a variety of clients who are involved in commercial and residential developments – including landowners, developers, contractors, sub-contractors, professionals, housing associations, charities and lenders. All of these clients find our in-depth knowledge invaluable when they need pragmatic and timely legal advice.

Richard Millard and Mairead McErlean advise on construction contracts and disputes. The property development work is led and driven by Darren Millis and Richard Willis.

  • The nature of construction projects, the contracts agreed and the law surrounding them, means that claims for payment are commonly made by one or more parties. This can be for a variety of situations

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  • The construction industry is notorious for the number of disputes that arise. We encourage dispute avoidance at an early stage when issues arise - and we believe fully in the importance of good communication to mitigate such situations.

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  • When a party decides ‘enough is enough’ and wants to terminate a contract, it is imperative that proper regard is given to the process which must be followed, the notices to be given and the content those notices must have. Unfortunately, subject to the exercise of any common law rights, a failure to follow the contractual process may result in one party being aggrieved at the other party’s conduct - acting unlawfully and exposing itself to a claim for substantial damages.

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  • ADR is a collective description of methods of resolving disputes otherwise than through the normal trial process. The most common forms are mediation, expert determination and early neutral evaluation.

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  • Collateral Warranties
    We prepare and advise on collateral warranties to be supplied from contractors, sub-contractors and consultants.
  • Construction Contracts
    We advise on the most suitable form of building contract to use on your project (predominantly using either JCT or NEC standard forms) and letters of intent whilst the terms are being agreed. We can then prepare amendments to these standard forms which are appropriate to each project, or advise on and negotiate amendments proposed by other parties. We will also explain the effect of those changes to the allocation of risk or acceptance of liability - and their commercial significance.
  • Construction projects can be complex and the reality is that disputes often arise. We will work with you to ensure that you understand your rights and obligations under the contract - analysing and assessing the evidence, in order to provide pragmatic advice on how best to pursue or defend a claim. Where appropriate, we will advise on how to manage issues, so we can put you in the best position possible - taking the approach that dispute avoidance is often the best route. But where a dispute is unavoidable or inevitable, we are experienced in engaging in correspondence to advance your position.

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  • Development Agreements, Options & other types of agreement
    We have the expertise to advise landowners, promoters, developers and builders on all aspects of the legal framework under which a development is to take place. This includes development agreements, option agreements, pre-emption agreements and agreements securing overage payments.
  • Construction projects involve a set sequence of activities, but it is common for events to occur which delay or disrupt the progress of the works - and which may, as a result, affect the contractor’s ability to complete the works by the agreed date.

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  • Novation Agreements, Bonds & Guarantees
    The responsibility for aspects of the design of the works is often transferred to the contractor by way of a novation agreement. In larger projects you will often require some form of security in the way of a performance bond and/or parent company guarantee. We can prepare and advise on such agreements, to ensure that the terms properly reflect the party’s intentions and that you understand the obligations you are agreeing to.
  • Payment
    The construction industry has its own set of rules that govern how and when payment under a “construction contract” should be made – yet it has a history of delayed payment and late payment. We can advise you on disputes regarding payment of what is alleged to be due - either under an interim or final account. This can be where a party claims a payment is due but is delayed or late, or how best to present a claim or defence - where the amount payable is to be determined either under the contract, or by a third party such as an adjudicator.
  • Planning
    When it comes to planning, no two projects or problems are the same. So whether you need help with planning law, an adoption agreement, planning conditions and obligations, highways issues or a compulsory purchase - we can advise on the correct steps to take, in order to find a solution that works for you. We have vast knowledge of planning issues, enabling us to tackle the most complex situations – and you will also benefit from our excellent and longstanding working relationship with Milton Keynes Council.
  • We can draft deeds and/or letters of appointment that you need, in order to instruct a professional team of architects, engineers, surveyors, project managers and other specialist consultants. We also advise professionals on the contracts they are asked to enter into and propose amendments where appropriate, explaining clearly the obligations the terms seek to impose.

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  • Property Development
    The demands of property development are ever-changing, and this is why it’s vital to have a team of experienced lawyers on hand - to offer expert advice, no matter how big or small your project. We have the skills you need, to help you get the best return - covering all of the different stages of construction including, looking for a suitable site, deciding how best to finance a purchase, applying for planning permission, in the middle of construction, build completed and looking for help structuring the letting or sale of your property.
  • Resolution of issues affecting land
    We can advise on issues that may affect the land you want to develop, providing practical advice and taking the appropriate steps to resolve any problems - such as restrictions on the property in favour of neighbouring or nearby land, the existence or route of rights of way, easements or the need to have services running across neighbouring land.
  • We have the knowledge, and contacts, to ensure that financing your project takes place within acceptable parameters both in terms of timescale and outcome. We know that successful financing requires a full bundle of paperwork and the clearest lines of communication between our Commercial Property team and the funder.

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  • There are a huge number of disputes referred to adjudication that focus on whether the payment mechanism has been properly adhered to and whether the right to suspend works has been lawfully exercised. We can advise you on your obligations, the notices you should serve, and when you should serve them. This extends to acts which the contract states must be done - for any entitlement to something such as a payment, a variation, extension of time or loss and expense to arise.

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THE Construction & Development team

  • Richard Millard Managing Partner
    Construction & Development 01908 689382
    Richard has over 20 years’ experience acting for clients in the construction industry,  providing pragmatic advice to developers, contractors, sub-contractors, design and construction professionals, housing associations, smaller builders and homeowners.

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  • Darren Millis Partner
    Commercial Property 01908 689317
    Darren has over 20 years’ experience in dealing with commercial property work.  Darren has concentrated in the last few years on the more complicated land acquisition and development work including:

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  • Richard Willis Partner
    Commercial Property 01908 689315
    Richard specialises in Property Law, representing clients from small family businesses to large PLC’s’ He also acts for local Councils, Parish Councils, landowners, investors, developers, lenders, Housing Associations and Charities. 

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  • Mairead McErlean Partner
    Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689333
    Over 14 years in practice Mairead has gained experience in a diverse range of disputed matters. She has particular expertise in insolvency matters, shareholder and partnership problems, breach of contract claims and building/property disputes. In addition Mairead deals with contentious and non-contentious enfranchisements.

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