Mediation in the Zero Sum World of Construction

3d character staring at conflict resolution buttons

If you are in commercial construction for any significant period of time disputes will arise.

September 26, 2022
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

Construction is a zero sum game. What do I mean by that? I mean that even where you, a construction professional with a great construction lawyer, have reviewed and edited a subcontract presented to you or provided a well-drafted contract to the other party that contains an attorney fees provision, every dollar that you spend on litigation is a dollar less of profit.

Couple the fact that no construction company can or should bid or negotiate work with an eye toward litigation (aside from having a well written contract that will be enforced to the letter here in Virginia). Particularly on “low bid” type projects, contractors and subcontractors cannot “pad” their bids to take into account the possibility of attorney fees, arbitration, or litigation. Furthermore, the loss of productivity when your “back office” personnel are tied up dealing with discovery, phone calls, and other incidents of litigation that do nothing but rehash a bad project and increase the expense sap money from the bottom line. While the possibility of a judgment including attorney fees may soften this blow, you are still out the cash.

All of this said, if you are in commercial construction for any significant period of time disputes will arise and I have discussed the process in some detail at other places here at Construction Law Musings. As a construction litigator, I am fully aware of this fact of life. Efficient management of these disputes is key, particularly when they escalate to the point where some form of outside “help” (read arbitrator or judge) is necessary.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at


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