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Causes of Construction Litigation in the UAE: How a Construction Lawyer Can Help

Construction litigation in the UAE is increasingly common in the country’s booming construction industry. The UAE has witnessed an unprecedented construction boom in recent years, with numerous projects ranging from large-scale infrastructure projects to luxurious commercial and residential properties. However, with the rise in construction activity, disputes and litigation have also increased. Construction litigation in the UAE is a complex and multifaceted area of law that requires a deep understanding of the legal framework governing construction disputes in the UAE and the practical aspects of construction projects.

Construction litigation can arise from a wide range of issues, and the causes of construction disputes can be complex and multifaceted. It is important for parties to take proactive measures to avoid disputes, such as properly drafting and negotiating contracts, conducting regular inspections and quality control, and promptly addressing issues that arise during the construction process. This article will explore the various aspects of construction litigation in the UAE, including the common causes, the legal framework governing construction disputes, and the dispute resolution mechanisms available.

What is Construction Litigation?

Construction litigation refers to disputes that arise between parties involved in a construction project, such as contractors, subcontractors, owners, developers, engineers, architects, and suppliers. These disputes may involve a wide range of issues, including breach of contract, defective workmanship, design defects, payment disputes, and delays.

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Causes of Construction Litigation in the UAE

The construction industry is inherently complex, involving various stakeholders, including developers, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and suppliers. With many such parties involved, disputes and litigation are almost inevitable.

Some of the common causes of construction litigation in the UAE include the following:

  1. Breach of contract – Many construction disputes arise due to a breach of contract by one of the parties. For example, a contractor may fail to deliver the project within the agreed timeframe, or a developer may fail to pay the contractor on time.
  2. Defective workmanship – Another common cause of construction litigation is defective workmanship. It may include issues such as poor quality work, non-compliance with specifications, or failure to meet safety standards.
  3. Design defects – Design defects can also give rise to construction disputes. Design-related disputes arise due to clients providing limited timeframes for completion, resulting in incomplete and inaccurate designs. Poor design can also occur when missing elements and inadequate technical plans lead to construction delays. All these factors can cause disputes between the owner and designer.
  4. Payment disputes – Payment disputes are another common cause of construction litigation in the UAE. This may include disputes over payment amount or timing or invoice non-payment.
  5. Quality of work issues: Quality of work issues can also lead to construction litigation in the UAE. This can occur when the work performed by a contractor or subcontractor is not up to the required standard or when the design of a building or structure is flawed or inadequate. The strict building codes and regulations in the UAE can complicate these issues.

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Legal Framework Governing Construction Disputes in the UAE

The legal framework governing construction disputes in the UAE is primarily based on federal law and regulations, including the UAE Civil Code, the UAE Commercial Code, and the UAE Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 on Arbitration (“Arbitration Law”).

Under the UAE Civil Code, parties to a construction contract must perform their obligations in good faith. If a party breaches this duty, the other party may seek damages or terminate the contract. The Civil Code also allows claiming moral damages, awarded for the mental suffering and distress caused by the breach of contract.

The UAE Commercial Code governs the formation and performance of commercial contracts, including construction contracts. It provides for the rules governing the formation of contracts, the obligations of the parties, and the remedies available in case of a breach.

The Arbitration Law governs the Arbitration of construction disputes in the UAE. It provides a modern legal framework for Arbitration, including the appointment of arbitrators, the conduct of proceedings, and the enforcement of awards.

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Dispute Resolution Mechanisms Available

The UAE provides various dispute resolution mechanisms for construction disputes, including:

  1. Negotiation – The parties may attempt to resolve the dispute through negotiation, either directly or with the assistance of a mediator.
  2. Adjudication – The parties may agree to refer the dispute to an adjudicator for a binding decision.
  3. Arbitration – The parties may agree to refer the dispute to Arbitration, which is a private and confidential process. The parties can agree on the arbitral tribunal, the rules governing the Arbitration, and the place of Arbitration.
  4. Litigation – The parties may also resolve the dispute through litigation in the UAE courts. In this case, the UAE courts would apply the relevant provisions of the Civil Code and Commercial Code.

Experienced Construction Lawyer in UAE

If you are facing a construction dispute in the UAE, seeking the assistance of an experienced construction lawyer in the UAE can be essential to protecting your rights and interests. At HHS Lawyers in Dubai, we have a team of highly skilled construction lawyers with extensive experience in resolving construction disputes in the UAE. Our construction lawyers in the UAE can help you navigate the complex laws and regulations governing construction projects and provide effective legal solutions tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our construction lawyers and take the first step towards resolving your construction dispute in the UAE. Moreover, parties to construction contracts in the UAE should ensure that their contracts are properly drafted and negotiated. This includes clearly defining the scope of work, the payment terms, the dispute resolution mechanism, and the applicable law.

Hazim Darwish

Hazim Darwish, is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Hazim Darwish also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators.