There is growing concern that the construction industry will become embroiled in costly and long-running disputes due to the effects of COVID-19 on projects and businesses.  This includes direct effects, such as delays caused by lockdown and restricted site operating procedures, and also the more general impact of a recession.

Building magazine quotes Mark Beard, the new CIOB president,  who expresses his concern that "we'll see more bad behaviour" as Government initiatives such as the furlough scheme come to an end.

In April the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published a statement on how the pandemic could negatively affect on payment and contracts, and asked the industry to work together to constructively resolve disputes.

The CLC subsequently published best practice guidance, providing examples of the types of issues that are likely to arise, together with practical advice on resolution.

It is fair to say that the guidance has received a mixed reception in practice. In my experience there are certainly a significant number of claims for time and money arising out of COVID-19 delays which will need to be resolved in the coming months. Cases such as Bresco Electrical Services v Michael J Lonsdale have also increased the potential for insolvent companies to adjudicate.

The CLC's Roadmap to Recovery aims to deliver a more professional, productive and profitable construction sector, by transforming the business model to create a more collaborative, fairer and resilient industry.

However, it may be necessary to first weather the storm, as the fall-out from COVID-19 is navigated by developers, contractors and suppliers under significiant financial stress.