Disputes related to construction contracts or projects in New Jersey might arise because of a lack of understanding of the contract’s conditions, a failure to properly administer the terms of the contract or for a range of other reasons. No matter what causes them, contract disputes can be time-consuming and damaging to the relationship between the parties. Contractors and project owners can reduce the chance that disputes will arise by carefully drafting the relevant contracts and paying particular attention to the dispute resolution clause.

Among the options that should be considered when planning for dispute resolution are mediation, negotiation, expert determination, adjudication, arbitration and litigation. Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party is brought in to resolve the dispute. It’s not legally binding, but it might bring the parties to an agreement. Negotiation means the parties attempt to work out the issues among themselves before they move on to other methods of resolution. Expert determination is similar to mediation as a third-party expert is tasked with resolving the dispute.

Adjudication differs from mediation in that the adjudicator makes the decision, whereas the mediator tries to help the parties solve it themselves. In an arbitration, a third party decides the issue in a way that will be legally binding. Litigation, in which the parties go to court, is the last option for dispute resolution.

Construction contract disputes can be minimized or avoided altogether with good planning and careful drafting. Legal representatives might be able to help contractors and developers by creating contracts that meet all needs and goals. In a case where a construction dispute has already arisen, a lawyer might examine the facts of the case and lay out the dispute resolution options available. If the dispute cannot be resolved out of court, a lawyer might draft a complaint for damages or other relief.