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Construction Law

Construction law includes all legal rules that govern the building process from start to finish. In broad strokes, building law can be divided into two categories: civil construction law and public construction law. Civil construction law regulates the legal relationships between the natural persons or entities. Public construction law always involves a (local) authority.

The application of a range of innovative contract forms, and the shift of responsibilities and risks mean that it is increasingly important for both clients and contractors or subcontractors to make well-considered choice with respect to, for example, the type of contract and the corresponding general terms and conditions.

Our construction lawyers can provide advice for all aspects of construction law, draw up the required contracts and assess and support your organisation during the building process. And if it necessary to conduct legal proceedings, or to raise a defence in legal proceedings, then our lawyers will gladly be at your side.

As noted, construction law consists of public construction law and civil construction law. However, constrution law is also a part of, or at least has aspects in common with the more general property law.

Apartment right

Property law covers topics such as statutory rights and duties between neighbours, right of ownership, easement and apartment right.

Public construction law

Public construction law regulates the relationship between (legal) entities and a (local) government. This includes, for example, applying for a building permit. But also consider topics such as zoning plans, area development, spatial planning, environmental aspects or expropriation. The authorities are involved in all these topics.

Civil construction law

Civil construction law regulates the relationships between natural persons and/or legal entities. Think of the relationships between the architect, constructor, client and (sub)contractor. Matters may become more complicated when a client could also be an authority, which is common in civil engineering.

Construction rights and laws

All these relationships must be regulated in written agreements. There are many rights and laws in construction, but the contractual relationships in construction are managed by general terms and conditions and regulations, such as UAV 1989 and 2012, UAV-gc 2005, DNR, STABU, ALIB 2007, RAW and the Metaalunie conditions.

The New Rules 2011 (DNR) will mostly apply to the relationship between the client and the architect and the constructor. These general terms and conditions govern topics, such as advice, designing and organising building projects and focus on the relationship between the client and their employed consultants, such as architects, engineers and constructors.

Uniform Administrative Conditions for the Execution of Works (UAV)

The Uniform Administrative Conditions for the Execution of Works (UAV) are often declared applicable to agreements between the client and contractor. The latest version is from 2012 and thus replaces the 1989 version.

The construction industry uses so-called integrated contracts to an increasing extent in which multiple building process components are combined. The simplest form of an integrated contract is the so-called Design and Construct contract. An extended version of an integrated contract is the DBFMO contract (Design, Build, Finance, Maintain and Operate). In these cases, the contractor ensures the design, execution, financing and maintenance.

If an integrated contract is used, a Basic Agreement is most commonly used. This is a standard model that generally refers to the UAV-gc. The Basic Agreement and the UAV-gc are the contractual foundation between the client and contractor that will be further elaborated in so-called annexes. The client relays their wishes and requirements to the contractor by means of tender specifications.

Arbitration law

Many standard conditions used in construction, such as in the UAV, state that an arbitrator is authorised to handle any disputes instead of ordinary court. The most well-known arbitration institute in construction is the Arbitration Board for the Building Industry. As such, arbitration law has a prominent spot in construction law.

Legal aspects

Professional participants in the building process are familiar with all its technical intrinsic aspects, but usually are less familiar with its legal aspects. To prevent any issues later, it may be wise to go to a construction law expert before signing a contract. If the damage has already been done and you are in danger of ending up in legal proceedings, then you can come to that same construction lawyer for help.

As stated, construction law consists of public construction law and civil construction law.

Public construction law

Public construction law regulates the relationship between you and a (local) authority. Think of, for example, applying for a building permit. But it also includes topics that you will be less familiar with, such as zoning plans, spatial planning, environmental aspects, or apropriation. The government is involved in all these aspects.

Civil construction law

In short, civil construction law regulates the relationships between natural persons and/or legal entitities. These include, for example, a contractor, architect, or installer you order to perform works. Civil construction law primarily consists of contract law. A range of different parties are involved in a building process. The mutual relationship between all these parties is arranged by means of agreements, or contracts. These contracts contain the agreements made between these parties. The following example serves to provide insight into a building process and the parties involved.

Imagine you want to build a house. You can employ an architect to create a design. A constructor will then need to investigate how to build the house. Once the design and the corresponding construction have been worked out, the contractor can get to work. The contract will in turn outsource specific works to a subcontractor, such as an installer or painter.

Construction contract and construction agreement

All these relationships must be arranged and recorded in a construction contract. For some of these contracts, you will be a party. It is also possible that you are not a party in an agreement. For example, you will enter into a construction agreement with a contractor. This contractor is obliged to build the entire house for you based on this agreement. Nevertheless, this contractor will hire experts for specific works, such as hiring a painter for all the paintwork. In which case, the contract will enter into the agreement with the painter. For you, the contractor remains the point of contact and if you have any complaints about the paintwork, then the contractor will in turn discuss the matter with the painter they hired.

In general there are two types of agreements that dominate civil construction law: the contract for services and the contractor agreement. In a contractor agreement, one party (the contractor) is obliged towards the other party (client) to complete work of a corporeal nature outside of employment and against payment. In a contract for services, one party is obliged towards the other party to perform works outside of an employment contract that consist of something else than the completion of a work of a corporeal nature.

In the example of the house you want to build, the agreements with the architect and the constructor will most likely qualify as contracts for services whereas the agreement with the contract may be qualified as a contractor agreement (possibly combined with a contract of purchase). Both agreements legally enshrined in the Dutch Civil Code. For private individuals (natural persons not acting in the performance of a company or profession), a part of the statutory provisions are mandatory law, which means that you will not be able to deviate from them in the written agreement.

In a contract for services, the mandatory legal provisions primarily apply to the options of termination. The contractor agreement provides for a mandatory legal regulations for any situation in which a private individual orders the construction of immovable property, such as a house. These regulations in short determine that a written construction contracting agreement is required (an oral agreement is prohibited). Furthermore, a private individual can only be obliged to make payments that (approximately) correspond to the construction progress. Moreover, a private individual has the option of depositing 5% of the contracting sum (the price) with a notary. This deposit amount will only be paid out to the contractor after completion and repairs of all remaining issues.

Legal aspects

Private individuals who are not dealing with the building process regularly, such as someone who wants to build an extension, are mostly unfamiliar with the legal aspects. To prevent any issues later, it is wise to be properly informed before commencing the works. Our construction lawyers can provide advice on the risks as well as provide input to make the construction process as efficient as possible. And even if issues arise during the building process, or if you are dealing with hidden defects to your home after completion, our construction lawyers will gladly provide assistance.

As noted, construction law consists of public construction law and civil construction law. However, construction law is also a part of, or at least has aspects in common with the more general property law.

Apartment right

Property law covers topics such as statutory rights and duties between neighbours, right of ownership, easement and apartment right.

Public construction law

Public construction law regulates the relationship between (legal) entities and a (local) government. This includes, for example, applying for a building permit. But topics such as zoning plans, area development, spatial planning, environmental aspects or expropriation, planning blight, compensation for loss resulting from administrative acts, legal protection, and preservation are also covered by public construction law.

Civil construction law

Civil construction law regulates the relationships between natural persons and/or legal entities. Think of the relationships between the architect, constructor, client and (sub)contractor. It may be slightly confusing that a client can also be an authority, which in some cases qualifies as a legal entity and not a government.

Construction rights and laws

All these relationships must be regulated in written agreements. There are many rights and laws in construction, but the contractual relationships in construction are managed by general terms and conditions and regulations, such as UAV 1989 and 2012, UAV-gc 2005, DNR, STABU, ALIB 2007, RAW and the Metaalunie conditions.

The New Rules 2011 (DNR) will mostly apply to the relationship between the client and the architect and the constructor. These general terms and conditions govern topics, such as advice, designing and organising building projects and focus on the relationship between the client and their employed consultants, such as architects, engineers and constructors.


Uniform Administrative Conditions for the Execution of Works (UAV)

The Uniform Administrative Conditions for the Execution of Works (UAV) are often declared applicable to agreements between the client and contractor. The latest version is from 2012 and thus replaces the 1989 version.

The construction industry uses so-called integrated contracts to an increasing extent in which multiple building process components are combined. The simplest form of an integrated contract is the so-called Design and Construct contract. An extended version of an integrated contract is the DBFMO contract (Design, Build, Finance, Maintain and Operate). In these cases, the contractor ensures the design, execution, financing and maintenance.

But there are also other combinations, such as:

  • Engineer & Construct
  • Design, Build & Maintain
  • Design, Build, Finance & Maintain
  • Turnkey.

If an integrated contract is used, a Basic Agreement is most commonly used. This is a standard model that generally refers to the UAV-gc. The Basic Agreement and the UAV-gc are the contractual foundation between the client and contractor that will be further elaborated in so-called annexes. The client relays their wishes and requirements to the contractor by means of tender specifications.

Arbitration law

Many standard conditions used in construction, such as in the UAV, state that an arbitrator is authorised to handle any disputes instead of ordinary court. The most well-known arbitration institute in construction is the Arbitration Board for the Building Industry. As such, arbitration law has a prominent spot in construction law.

Legal aspects

Construction law as a whole has many aspects and many different types of conditions and regulations that all partly overlap or deviate from each other. Authorisations and responsibilities between parties are divided differently in each case. The various forms of integrated contracts can also simply lead to confusion. An error can be irreparable. For a corporate lawyer, this is a heavy responsibility. It is good to know in such cases that you, as a corporate lawyer, can always contact one of our lawyers. They will gladly provide their input and 'spar' with you. They will gladly provide assistance and advice on many aspects of construction law, such as drawing up or assessing contracts, providing advice on the legal relationships with the corresponding opportunities and risks, or negotiating to settle any disputes amicably. Naturally, we can also provide aid in conducting arbitration proceedings or ordinary court proceedings and preliminary relief proceedings.

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