Opinion

Why contractors should listen to the lawyers

Writing up this month’s In Profile allowed me the opportunity to reflect on how different things might have been during the financial crisis if the right legal advice had been available to the industry then.

As Scott Lambert goes on to elaborate during his interview, contractors, especially smaller, more local ones, aren’t exactly the most clued up when it comes to the legal fine points of their contracts.

As he puts it, his job is to spread awareness of the necessity of having that advice on hand at a time when the construction industry is cranking up the gears.

READ MORE: Scott Lambert gives counsel on why legal advice matters

How different the circumstances of the crash would have been if that sort of thinking had been prevalent back in 2008. We’ll never know now, but it’s safe to assume that the effects would have been far less devastating if people had taken the time to draw up contracts that ensured their legal protection.

We can only hope that the lessons have been absorbed, but I find it hard to be optimistic about that when we look at the makeup of the industry in 2015. How many of the same people from 2008 do we have left in the market? Is the experience still there? Or are we facing the same situation we had back then? A market full of ‘optimism’ and a willingness to get the job done, without thinking through the consequences of our actions?

People say that we learn from our mistakes, but in this case, I’m a little worried that there isn’t anyone left who remembers the bad times. And that could prove to be very costly indeed.

Of course, the major contractors will be fine, as they always are, but it’s the little guys who are most vulnerable. The most common excuse would be that they can’t afford the legal fees, but as Lambert says, ‘it’s better to spend a little up front than face a major arbitration case down the line’.

Wise words of advice indeed. I sincerely hope that the industry is listening.

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