In any construction there are usually many parties involved in the project (the owners, the builders, sub-contractors, engineers, architects, the council and so on).  When things go wrong, it can be difficult to work out where the problem was caused, and where the potential remedy lies. 

Pursuing the correct party is important, because otherwise valuable time and resources may be wasted on the wrong party.  In addition, factors like the ability of a party to pay or the availability of insurance may also play an important role in deciding who to pursue.  

After working out who the correct party is, there are also several options to determine the scope of that party, or parties’, liability.  Parties may be liable under a contract, under the law e.g. negligence, or under statutes like the Building Act, Consumer Guarantees Act, Fair Trading Act, and so on. 

The remedies that are available under statute, civil law and contract will be different in each case.  As such, it is important that a party looking to make a claim, takes into account what they ultimately wish to achieve.  Getting professional advice at this early stage can be important to ensure you collect the evidence needed to support your claim and know what your options are.

For parties who are at the beginning of a construction project, it is essential to put in place adequate protections in the event that things do not go to plan later.  Although some statutory and legal protections will automatically apply, the parties can fine tune and customize their own liability and protection by way of contract that sets out who is responsible for doing what, when and for how much.  This can be particularly important when it comes to unique and novel projects where the risk is potentially larger.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.




Jaenine Badenhorst
Associate Lawyer
Wellington