As a contractor, ensuring you get paid for your work, even when faced with external challenges, is crucial for your business. The key is to maintain detailed records to prove what you've achieved and when. Amid external chaos, maintaining order in your operations is essential to make sure you receive the payments you're owed.

The Problem: Supply Chain Delays and Cost Escalations Are Delaying Contractor Payments

Supply chain problems mean materials and equipment are hard to source, often arriving late to your work site. This slows down your progress and reduces productivity, yet your expenses stay the same or increase. Head contractors may try to delay payments, claiming your work isn’t advancing as scheduled.

To overcome this, meticulous record-keeping is key. Note all materials obtained and work performed, no matter how small. Date-stamped photos provide visual evidence of what was achieved and when. Keep copies of invoices, delivery dockets and timesheets to verify expenses incurred during periods of reduced output.

While supply chain disruptions are outside your control, demonstrating the time, effort and money invested in the interim will strengthen your payment claims. Provide regular progress reports to head contractors highlighting work done and obstacles faced. Be proactive in suggesting revised timeframes and budgets to account for procurement issues, showing your willingness to compromise while still expecting due payment.

With transparent communication and comprehensive records substantiating your payment claims, head contractors have no cause to delay or reduce payments during these turbulent times. Staying on top of the situation and maintaining an open dialogue with understanding and flexibility from both sides is the best way to ensure contractors get paid despite market mayhem. Keep your head high - this too shall pass!

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Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

The Solution: Litigation to Enforce Contractor Payment Obligations

If you're a contractor, the last thing you want is your payment held up because of events outside your control.

To get paid on time, you need to take action. The solution is litigation to enforce your contractual right to payment.

Documentation is Key

To succeed with a payment claim, prove the work was performed. Keep records identifying construction work or goods and services between payment dates, like:

  • Timesheets, invoices and delivery dockets
  • Date-stamped photos of work progress
  • Evidence of subcontractor and supplier payments (goods & service records)

Head contractors often must show workers and subs were paid. Provide that evidence.

Put Them on Notice

Formally notify the principal that payment is overdue, stating the amount owed and date due. Explain that further delay will incur interest charges and legal fees. Send by registered post so you have proof of delivery.

Commence Adjudication

If payment is not received promptly after notice, start adjudication to resolve the dispute and recover the amount owed, plus interest and costs. Adjudication is a fast, low-cost way to enforce payment. The adjudicator will review the evidence and determine if you're owed the claimed amount.

Consider Court Action

As a last resort, you may need to commence legal proceedings to recover payment through a court judgement. While more time-consuming, it can be necessary to force stubborn principals to pay, especially for large sums.

Following these steps will help ensure you receive payment, even when circumstances conspire against you. Staying on top of documentation, following proper notice procedures and being willing to take the issue to adjudication or court are key to overcoming payment obstacles. Your cash flow and business depend on it!

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Photo by Rita Morais / Unsplash

To successfully obtain payment as a contractor despite supply chain issues, certain legal expertise is key.

Contract Law

Understanding the terms of your construction contracts inside and out is critical. Know what events constitute grounds for extra time, cost escalations or variations. Be aware of notice requirements for claims and ensure you comply with them. Familiarity with industry-standard contracts like AS4000 will allow you to push back on unreasonable clauses.

Record keeping is essential. Maintain detailed records, like date-stamped photos, identifying all work performed between payment claims. This evidence proves you’re owed money and the amount. It also shows the head contractor your subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.

Head contractors often require evidence you’ve paid workers and subcontractors before releasing your payment. Have records demonstrating this ready to provide.

Construction Law

Construction law expertise helps you understand regulations and compliance issues in the industry. You’ll know procedures for obtaining proper permits and consents, safety standards, and quality requirements. This minimises legal issues that could delay payment like stop-work orders.

Commercial Litigation

Unfortunately, sometimes payments end up in dispute and court is required as a last resort. Experience in commercial litigation and dispute resolution will help you build a strong case, know when court is truly needed and find alternatives like mediation that may resolve the issue faster. You’ll understand strategies for the best outcome if court can’t be avoided.

The supply chain may be chaotic, but with the right legal knowledge and records, you can still ensure your payments as a contractor. Stay on top of the terms in your contracts, keep extensive records of all work and costs, comply with regulations and be ready to legally enforce your rights if necessary. With expertise and diligence, you'll get paid for the value you provide.

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Photo by Uriel Soberanes / Unsplash

Having a multi-disciplinary legal team involved in dispute resolution for your construction project can provide several benefits.

Broader range of expertise

A team with lawyers from different specialties, like commercial litigation, construction law, and alternative dispute resolution, will have knowledge and experience across a wider range of issues. This broad expertise means they can anticipate potential problems, address complex matters, and find creative solutions. They understand how different areas of law interact and impact each other.

Ability to take an integrated approach

With expertise in legal processes like litigation, mediation, and arbitration, a diverse team can figure out the best way to solve a dispute. They can decide which method works best based on factors like the relationships between the parties, contract terms, time limits, and costs. Their familiarity with different resolution methods lets them change their approach if needed to get the best result.

Depth of resources

Larger legal teams typically have greater resources to commit to a case. They can conduct extensive research, obtain advice from subject matter experts, and dedicate more time to the dispute. Deeper resources also mean the ability to pursue multiple strategies simultaneously if the situation calls for it.

A diverse legal team may include lawyers, paralegals, experts, and dispute-resolution specialists. By leveraging their skills and knowledge, the team can offer comprehensive advice and find the best way to resolve construction disputes. Their expertise in various legal areas allows the team to adapt to the project's needs and the parties involved.

Especially for complex construction disputes, having a diverse legal team is more beneficial than any additional costs. Their extensive knowledge and ability to take an integrated approach can help avoid expensive delays and issues in the future. In the midst of the current disruptions in supply chains and rising costs, ensuring that contractors receive fair and timely payment is crucial. A legal team with ample resources and expertise to handle any challenges that arise could be essential for the success of your construction project.

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Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona / Unsplash

Partnering With Experienced Lawyers to Guarantee Contractor Payments

To guarantee contractor payments during supply chain disruptions, partnering with experienced construction lawyers is key. They can help ensure your legal rights are protected and payments are received on time.

Drafting Solid Contracts

Having a well-drafted contract in place from the outset is crucial. Experienced lawyers will ensure payment terms, delay clauses, and mechanisms to claim variations and extensions of time are clearly articulated. This makes it much harder for others to dispute or avoid payments owed if issues arise.

Maintaining Comprehensive Records

Lawyers advise contractors to keep extensive records of all work performed, correspondence, site instructions, and supply orders. Photographs, delivery dockets, timesheets, and other documents should be date-stamped and organised chronologically. These provide indisputable evidence that work has been done if a payment claim needs to be made.

Pursuing Rightful Claims

If payments are delayed or disputes emerge, lawyers can issue carefully drafted letters of demand and commence court proceedings to pursue rightful claims. Their experience in managing construction disputes and knowledge of relevant security of payment laws mean they understand exactly what is required to succeed with a payment claim in your jurisdiction.

Negotiating Resolutions

Even if a dispute emerges, lawyers may be able to negotiate a resolution to avoid lengthy court proceedings. Their objectivity and expertise in dispute resolution can help identify solutions acceptable to both parties. This may allow contractors to receive at least a portion of monies owed promptly.

Partnering with experienced construction lawyers is the best way contractors can safeguard their rights and ensure payments keep flowing, even when supply chain issues create challenges. Their knowledge and skill in drafting contracts, collecting evidence, pursuing claims, and resolving disputes provide the support contractors need during chaotic times.


So there are a few useful tips to help ensure your payments keep flowing despite the ongoing supply chain and materials issues. Keep detailed records, take plenty of photos, get paperwork signed off promptly, and don’t be afraid to push for interim claims if needed. Staying on top of the admin might feel tedious at times, but it will pay off when your payments come through as expected. With a bit of diligence and proactivity, you can thrive even when times are tough. Keep your head up - there are still plenty of opportunities out there if you look for them. Stay strong, you’ve got this!