It's being reported that a number of subcontractors are being pressured to stay on site.
According to a report on the Construction Enquirer's website, scores of subcontractors are being bullied into remaining on site by main contractors and clients by threatening them with notices of delay and breach of contract if they don't turn up on site with workers and materials.
It must be said that the majority of contractors have been taking a responsible attitude to site safety in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, despite financial and contractual pressure from their clients to remain on site and keep to programme deadlines.
But there appears to be significant number of main contractors who subbies claim are simply "reverting to the bad old days of subbie bashing to protect their balance sheets."
Subcontractors have serious concerns as to the safety of working on sites and whether its possible to maintain any semblance of the Government's social distancing requirements. Other subbies are already having their payment applications refused or drastically cut, allowing the main contractor to retain as much as money possible.
At the moment, uncertainly rules and the Government's advice is being updated on a daily basis. The stress and financial chaos is hurting everyone. In these situations it is important to know your legal rights, both as an employer and a contractor.
The position with subcontractors is not very clear, with some contractors shutting sites and others staying open. In the current circumstances it would seem unlikely that main contractors would succeed in penalising subbies as suggested through notice of delay or breach of contract, provided that subbies have notified the contractor of their position and claim as a relevant event (Force Majeure).
Similarly where contractors have shut sites it is unlikely that subcontractors would be able to claim against the contractor for the same reason. Having said that, only time will tell as we are all in unchartered waters.
Our Hobbs Advisory expert believes that the big problem will be main contractors hanging on to cash and issuing spurious payless notices to avoid making payment.
If you're now finding yourself in a similar situation then contact us here at Hobbs as soon as possible to find out where you stand.
To find out what a contractor can claim against an employer take a look at our previous article by Eldwick Law "Need Help with a Contractor Dispute?"
How Hobbs Advisory Can Help You
There are a number of options open to you such as adjudication, mediation, litigation or arbitration, with adjudication being the quickest way of resolving your claim and getting paid for your application.
However there are problems at the moment due to the lack of available adjudicators and if subcontractors are not careful and submit their Notice of Adjudication too quickly, the delay in starting the actual adjudication process can give the Responding Party valuable additional time to prepare their Response. This can negate the effectiveness of an adjudication where time is of the essence and is what makes is such an attractive legal option in the first place.
If you're confused as to what options you have and how to best proceed, then we can help guide you through the minefield. We have a proactive approach to managing disputes ensuring that they are handled quickly and professionally to prevent relationships becoming hostile and minimising the risk of future dispute.
We are happy to discuss your requirements on the phone or to arrange a video meeting to discuss your way forward.
Register now for a FREE 20-minute telephone consultation with us so you can quickly understand your legal and contractual options before deciding on your best course of action.
Author: Rosy Watson, Hobbs Advisory