A newly announced six-part series of legal webinars from WeirFoulds LLP is sending the signal that there’s been a lot of disruption in construction law in Ontario over the last year while everyone was preoccupied with COVID-19.
WeirFoulds construction lawyer Faren Bogach, one of three hosts from the firm, explained the six topics selected represent the themes most problematic and uppermost on the minds of the sector over the past year outside of the pandemic.
“Last year we took a focus on all of the COVID-related contract issues, force majeure and notice, and we spent a lot of time and held a lot of webinars on what was happening with construction, but now people are kind of going back to the basics,” said Bogach.
The topics covered will be Prompt Payment and Adjudication, April 1; Construction Contracts, April 15; Risk Management: Insurance and Bonding, April 29; Bidding and Tendering, May 13; Excess Soil Regulations, May 27; and Avoiding Disputes, June 10.
Bogach said the intention is not to drill exclusively into the evolving law on the topics but to also identify trends and shifts in the marketplace.
“It’s really important for us to make this more practical,” she said. “It’s about business risk and where things are going. You know we can draft a perfect contract but if someone isn’t going to accept it, that isn’t going to help anybody. Sometimes you have to go with what’s going on in the industry, what are owners expecting, what are contractors expecting with their subs.”
Lawyers Krista Chaytor and Jeff Scorgie will represent WeirFoulds along with Bogach and each session will have guest experts in the field. Among the commentators will be Tim Meana of Walsh Canada, Jamie Collum and Andrew Cartwright of FCA Insurance, Jeff Goldman of SoilFLO, Jiwan Thapar of JTE Claims Consultants and Matt Ainley, an adjudicator with Ontario Dispute Adjudication for Construction Contracts.
“We’re really bringing in people who are in the industry, dealing with it every day, so that they can hold the lawyers in check to say, ‘that’s really nice but this is the reality of what we’re facing.’ ”
The province’s prompt payment regime became law in October 2019 but there have been few adjudications because many existing contracts have been subject to the old law.
“It’s really only now that a lot of the projects that will no longer be grandfathered in the old system are actually going through prompt payment and adjudication, so we’re getting a lot of questions from people on how it works and what they should be doing for their contracts,” said Bogach. “We thought it was really important to talk about it now from a practical perspective.”
Discussions of Ontario’s new excess soil regulations will have more of an educational focus, she said.
“We are bringing awareness to people about something that they should be paying attention to and probably aren’t. It’s really, really important because it’s going to be impacting every construction project.
“We wanted people to be aware of it because environmental issues are notoriously complicated.”
Meana, general manager at Walsh Canada, will be on hand to discuss new terms in contracts and the relevance of the new CCDC-2 2020.
“The new CCDC is around and there’s a new thing called ready for takeover in it, it changes substantial performance,” Bogach explained.
“A lot of people are still working on the CCDC from 2008 but we’re going to see a shift over so we’re highlighting some of the changes that people need to pay attention to.”