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Construction Litigation Lawyers in Toronto & Hamilton

Construction projects don’t always go as planned. Unexpected problems can arise, delays can occur and parties can suffer serious financial losses, through no fault of their own. Problems can be the result of work performed by the design professionals (i.e. architects, engineers), the contractors, sub contractors, suppliers or even the owner, who may keep ‘shifting the goalposts’ during construction. Sometimes, the work is acceptable and on time, but the owner or general contractor simply fails to pay.

Sometimes, problems with construction (construction deficiencies) are only discovered after the fact, after the transaction has closed. In such cases, responsibility may rest with the designer, other building professionals (i.e. engineers), the contractors and/or the inspecting municipality. Our lawyers have experience litigating these claims on structures ranging from residential homes to commercial high rises. Some construction contracts, specifically those from the Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC) have built in dispute resolution mechanisms, that typically require problems be first reported to the consultant, then elevated to mediation and if unsuccessful, arbitration.

Common Types of Construction Disputes in Ontario

The most common types of construction disputes in Ontario involve disputes over payment (i.e. failure to pay – breach of contract), deficient construction (construction defects) and delay (i.e. building wasn’t ready on time, leading to financial losses). Depending upon the amount, various remedies may be available.

  • Failure to pay – breach of contract
  • Construction defects
  • Building wasn’t built on time, leading to financial losses

For disputes involving less than $35,000.00, the most cost effective remedy is likely to be found via the Small Claims Court.
Where contractors or subcontractors have not been paid, the have a few additional options. Initially, they can place a lien upon the property, provided they move to do so promptly, and otherwise follow the requirements set forth in Ontario’s Construction Act. This chiefly involves registering the lien, filing suit, and then filing the Certificate of Action. Our lawyers have experience doing this (owners can pay a bond (or obtain a letter of credit), for the amount plus 25%, to have the lien removed from title, something our lawyers also have experience with).

Where the project is ongoing (i.e. paint all 10 floors of this building), but a dispute arises over payment of one specific part of the work (i.e. the painting on the 2nd floor was deficient/incomplete), parties have the option to obtain a preliminary determination through the Ontario Dispute Adjudication for Construction Contracts (ODACC) Tribunal. In practice, this is basically an arbitration proceeding, which reaches an interim determination (i.e. pay $10,000 to the subcontractor now), pending final determination by the court (or settlement by the parties).

For larger disputes, it may be necessary to resort to the courts, where matters can be resolved by Judge, or upon a ‘Reference’ by an Associate Judge. In Toronto, references lead to cases being heard by Associate Judges who specialize in construction litigation.

Questions To Ask About Your Construction Related Dispute

A number of factors can complicate construction litigation disputes. These include, but are not limited to:

  • was there a written contract and if the contract was oral, what were the terms?
  • what written records were maintained and how reliable are they?
  • are key personnel still available and cooperative?
  • conflicting expert opinions (i.e. what was defective, what resulted in delay, and how much).

Call Our Toronto and Hamilton Construction Lawyers Today

If you are involved in a construction dispute, and are either seeking damages or being sued, our lawyers can help. Call today to speak with our Toronto and Hamilton lawyers at 1-647-495-8995 and we will provide you with a brief overview of what we can do to help.

Alternatively, fill out the Case Form on the left of this page. With offices in Toronto and Hamilton and a legal practice that spans the GTA, we’ll meet you where it’s convenient.

Frequently Asked Questions About Construction Disputes

Construction disputes in Toronto and the GTA can be resolved through the courts along with an interim adjudication process provided by the Ontario Dispute Adjudication for Construction Contracts (ODACC). The ODACC process is a quick and cost-effective mechanism designed for the resolution of disputes arising from construction contracts. Adjudicators make decisions that are enforceable in the same manner as court orders and are considered final unless further arbitration or court proceedings are pursued. This approach has been implemented to streamline dispute resolution in the construction industry and encourage timely payment and completion of work.

Negligence in construction projects may manifest as poor workmanship, delays, incomplete work, or the use of substandard materials. Property owners and contractors should watch for these signs as they can significantly impact the quality, safety, and timeline of a construction project. Recognizing these early signs can help in addressing issues promptly before they escalate into larger disputes.

To protect your project from construction disputes, it is necessary to have clear and detailed contracts in place that outline the scope of work, payment schedules, and procedures for resolving disputes. Regular communication, inspections and documentation throughout the project can also prevent misunderstandings. Considering whether you want to use an industry standard contract, or include an arbitration clause in your contract setting forth the method of dispute resolution. Being proactive and addressing issues early on can also mitigate the risk of disputes escalating.

If you’re facing a construction litigation case in Toronto, Hamilton, and area, consider the following steps:

  1. Review your contract to understand your rights and obligations.
  2. Gather all relevant documentation, including contracts, correspondence, and evidence of any disputed work or payments.
  3. Consult with a legal professional experienced in construction law.
  4. Consider using the ODACC’s interim adjudication process for a quicker resolution.
  5. Prepare for the possibility of an adjudication hearing by understanding the process and timelines involved. The adjudicator will review submissions from both parties and make a determination within 30 days after receiving all documentation​​.

Navigating construction disputes requires a careful approach, and seeking professional legal advice early can help protect your interests and achieve a favourable resolution.

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