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Joe Leavens Quoted in Birmingham Business Journal about the Impact of Supply Chain Delays on Legal Contracts

Balch & Bingham's Joe Leavens, partner in the Birmingham office and member of the Construction Practice, recently spoke to the Birmingham Business Journal regarding the impact supply chain delays are having on construction companies and projects.

In the article published on May 25, 2023, Joe discussed how the availability of materials is significantly impacting the construction industry, ranging from the products used to the contracts between builders and owners. Some builders are falling behind schedule due to unexpected delays and some owners are seeking compensation through liquidated damages clauses. 

“Some owners are requesting significant liquidated damages clauses, and some contractors have gotten very cautious, understandably so, about agreeing to those and about agreeing to ambitious completion deadlines, especially if they know they cannot be met,” Joe was quoted as saying. 

Joe told the Birmingham Business Journal he’s seeing more owners being aggressive about their amount of liquidated damages, with higher amounts than he’s seen in the past. He explained more disputes are escalating to legal involvement, emphasizing the importance of realistic completion schedules, altered liquidated damages provisions, or incentives to mitigate delays. 

He emphasized the need to communicate early and often. 

“If you are a contractor, or subcontractor, or material supplier, and you know you’ve got a supply chain issue or delay, communicate it as early as you can to whoever your counterpart is, and communicate it in writing, both before you sign a contract, and after. Explain that there is this delay, and it could impact things on the contractor side and the owner side,” Joe was quoted as saying.
Joe also encouraged parties not to sign contracts with deadlines that cannot be met.

“Owners, on the flip side of that, don’t plan for a project to be complete on an unreasonable timeline and base the rest of your business operations on that timeline,” Joe was quoted as saying. “It may not happen, and you may not have as much ability to recover from that as you might think. So plan conservatively.”

Joe is a litigator by training but takes great pride in having a business-first approach for his construction clients. He has negotiated millions of dollars in construction contracts on projects of all sizes and types across the country for owners, general contractors and subcontractors and is regularly involved in strategic project development for owners and real estate developers. 

Joe has extensive experience handling mid-project and post-completion legal matters including payment claims, liens, bond claims, construction defect claims, warranty claims and delay analyses in both the courtroom and in arbitration. His focus is always on getting the best business result for the client, whether that means litigating to a final judgment or finding a resolution with one eye on the bottom-line and one-eye on the next project.