Define the Forum and Scope of Recovery in Contract Disputes

Businesswoman holding contract

The first part of this series will specifically focus on provisions dealing with dispute resolution, venue, damages limitations and the recovery of attorneys’ fees.

March 2, 2020
Phillip L. Sampson Jr. & Richard F. Whiteley - Construction Executive

Private and public companies spend billions of dollars every year on construction projects. For these projects, time is money, and incorporating the most advantageous legal terms in the construction contract can minimize the number and extent of disputes, and ultimately save money.

It is important to remember that the provisions in construction contracts are negotiable. In a common scenario, the contractor and owner informally agree to the scope of a construction project and its cost. When it is time to reduce the deal to writing, the contractor and owner decide to use an AIA contract that appears to be a standard form. The document looks to be on point, and the parties simply need to fill in a few blanks with the cost and scope-specific information. Presuming that the AIA provisions are mutually protective and beneficial, the parties do not think about altering the “standard” terms. They sign the contract, and the project begins.

Months later, the owner and contractor end up disputing delays on the project, entitlement to various payments, and whether certain aspects of the work are defective. At this point, the parties realize that some of the contract’s terms could have been drafted a bit more favorably—but by that time it’s too late. So remember, construction contracts are negotiable, even provisions within “standard” AIA contracts.

Reprinted courtesy of Phillip L. Sampson Jr. and Richard F. Whiteley, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.

Mr. Sampson may be contacted at
Mr. Whiteley may be contacted at


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