Category: Dispute Management

What does it say – What does it mean

What does it say – What does it mean

What you meant, and what I understand, may be two different things.

When problem cases approach litigation, there might be thousands of emails, drawings, text messages and file notes that have to be understood – several years later – by someone who was not involved in the project.

If your documents cannot be understood, that may be to your disadvantage.

If your directions or opinions are conditional on other information, that other information may not necessarily be available to that later someone.

Never assume that your intentions and understanding of the documentation is shared by others:

MAKE THINGS CLEAR!

How Long to Keep Documents

How Long to Keep Documents

The warm fuzzies induced by the 10 year longstop on liability under the Building Act have been under threat from cases brought to Court. So far, so good. But it would be unwise to biff out everything related to a project as soon as the longstop is reached.

Although it has long been the case that joinder of third parties under WHRS cases can stretch that 10 years, there is a possibility of some legal drift towards that situation being extended more generally. If faced with a claim, defence may be dependent on the documents you hold. Consistent with our past articles on this issue, and more particularly for residential observation records, Communique suggests a 12 year holding period is prudent.

Expert Witnesses

The Claims Committee (Graham Strez, Alec Couchman, Colin Orchiston) is informed about every claim when it is notified, and follows each through until the file is closed off – perhaps several years later. As part of that process they provide advice to lawyers and insurers, and liaise directly with NZACS members.

In addition, there is often the need to have an experienced architect to provide independent input on a fee-paid basis. In the May 2018 Communique we discussed the role of the expert witness, and invited any architects who had an interest in this sort of work to make contact with NZACS or with members of the Claims Committee. That invitation still stands.