The following articles are part of Michael Gerard’s monthly column in the Leicestershire Builder magazine.

Customer refusing access to complete the works

Can a customer refuse to allow my fitter to complete a job? Problem:  Hi. I hope you can advise me on where my company legally stands with a customer.  The sum involved is small, but it is the principle of the matter as the customer has been an absolutely nightmare to deal with. My company recently fitted a new bathroom.  All finished, except for a purpose made mirror, which arrived damaged and had to be...
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Email hacking in the construction industry – who is liable?

Slightly different to my usual column – I have decided to write an article on email fraud as over the past couple of years, a number of clients have approached me who are concerned about email fraud; some because they have received electronic communications from fraudsters that appear convincing, whilst others have been the victim of fraud through their email accounts. Payment by cheque is fast disappearing, replaced by electronic funds transfers (EFTs).  However, despite...
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What is the best standard form of building contract to use?

Identifying the best standard form of building contract to use for a project  Problem:  It is not so much of a problem, but a question that I have, which is posed every time my company is awarded a project – what is the best standard form of building contract to use?  Response:  It is impossible to answer such a generic question. There are many organisations (NEC, JCT, RIBA, CIOB, to name just a few), that...
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How can you guard against insolvency post COVID-19?

With tough economic times ahead across our region and beyond, it’s crucial that businesses protect themselves against insolvency. Leicestershire Builder’s regular contributor Michael Gerard of Michael Gerard Solicitors (www.mg-law.co.uk) offers some timely advice. As history has taught us, construction is always one of the first sectors to be hit by economic downturns and although COVID-19 is causing a new breed of recession, this fact remains unchanged, with our sector steeling itself for significant ramifications nationally...
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How do I suspend operations during the Covid-19 pandemic without being in breach of contract?

Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on construction contracts Problem:  I have a situation that is no doubt going to be of huge interest to other contractors and companies allied to the construction industry (and indeed, all other sectors of the economy) – it is to do with the current coronavirus pandemic and the effect it is having on my building contracts. My construction company turns over in excess of £10 million, mainly new build with...
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Delayed work given to another contractor – can I claim damages?

Sub-contract order given to another contractor Problem:  Your view on an issue we have would be appreciated.  We have a sub-contract order for just over £18,000 to undertake roof repairs.  The work should have commenced on 20th January 2020, but this start date was initially put back a week.  A few days before the revised start date, we were again advised that the start date had been put back by another week.  On the Thursday...
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What can I do about a non-paying customer who is making false damage claims?

Non-paying customer now claiming damage Problem:  I run a small building company and most of my work is for the domestic market – extensions, alterations, improvements etc.  A few months back I completed an extension for a customer who has yet to settle the final account. I have chased payment on quite a few occasions without success.  So, on the recommendation of a friend, I wrote a stern letter giving the customer 7 days to...
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I am at my wits end with a customer, and just don’t know what to do

Wits end with a customer Problem: Firstly, a bit of background information.  I am a builder, sole trader, with no employees and use subbies as and when needed and have built up a great reputation since starting out by myself in 2008.  In May 2019, I provided a quotation to carry out some building works on a house (owned by a husband and wife).  My quote set out the price for the work, the scope...
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Can you please explain how the JCT Minor Works 2016 actually works?

JCT Minor Works 2016 – Please Explain! Problem: My building company specialises in refurbishment and our client base is a mixture of local authority work and private developers.  Most of the time when the company receive orders for work, it is just a purchase order with a few pages of terms and conditions.  Occasionally, a purchase order refers to the JCT Minor Works insofar that the terms and conditions of contract apply, and sometimes a...
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How do I minimise risk when taking on larger civil engineering projects?

Minimising risk Problem:  I run a smallish civil engineering contractor.  I started up the company in 2009, although I had little choice as the company I was working for at the time ceased trading due to the credit crunch.  Since then, my own company has grown organically and is now turning over around £2 million per year. Most of our work is one-off bespoke dwellings and small residential and industrial developments.  Over the last 18...
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