Claims are inevitable in the construction industry. They can take on a life of their own and come with the burden of legal fees, wasted executive time and a possible judgment. Too often the only winners are the lawyers.
TIPS FOR PROTECTING MANAGEMENT AND THE BUSINESS BEFORE A CLAIM IS FILED
- Respect the business entity’s corporate structure. First and most importantly, respect the business entity’s corporate form. Legal entities have certain formalities like filing an annual list of officers, maintaining separate bank accounts, conducting certain meetings and following bylaws, etc. Respect these formalities. Failure to follow them exposes the owner to personal liability for company debts. And while a business claim has the potential to wipe out a business, owners should not risk having their personal assets on the line as well.
- Get a good contract. In most instances, a contract governs what happens and who is responsible for payment associated when a certain issue or dispute arises. A clear, well-written contract can often avoid a dispute or liability for a dispute. Actively participate in the contract negotiation and drafting process to make sure each party’s role and responsibilities are clearly accounted for.
- Make friends with clients. While it is true that “business is business,” people are often fairer and more willing to work towards a solution for people they are friends with. In most cases, friends will help friends in ways that people would not help mere business associates. When encountering a problem on a job, a friend may be willing to help achieve a more favorable outcome.
Reprinted courtesy of Mary Bacon, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.