The construction industry has been hit hard by project delays in recent years, and architects and design professionals are finding themselves at the center of legal battles with project owners. As the effects of the pandemic continue to disrupt the construction sector, there is an ongoing debate about who should bear the responsibility for these delays and the associated costs.
According to Andrew Carlowicz Jr. and Lawrence Powers, co-chairs of the Construction Law Department at the law firm Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas LLP, they have witnessed an increase in civil lawsuits arising from project delays. They note that these cases are complex and often involve multiple parties at fault.
While architects cannot be blamed for COVID-related delays directly, property owners are scrutinizing design professionals for pre-existing issues that were exacerbated by the pandemic. The argument against design professionals is that the delays were not primarily caused by COVID but by other issues that were already present before the pandemic hit.
Financial issues, including higher interest rates and supply chain disruptions, have also contributed to the escalation of conflicts. Some projects have faced significant cost increases, leading to disputes between property owners and design professionals.
However, it is unlikely that these cases will be resolved through litigation. The majority of civil cases, including those in the construction industry, are settled outside of court. In New Jersey, where the lawyers are based, the backlog of cases and shortage of judges further complicates the timeline for resolving these disputes.
Overall, the construction industry is grappling with the aftermath of pandemic-related disruptions, and architects and design professionals find themselves entangled in legal battles over project delays. The resolution of these disputes will likely involve settlements rather than courtroom proceedings.
– Andrew Carlowicz Jr. and Lawrence Powers, co-chairs of the Construction Law Department at Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas LLP.