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Design & Build Review

When BIM goes wrong: legal challenges in the spotlight

Issues related to building information modelling (BIM) are becoming increasingly common in disputes due to confusion over ownership but also design errors that cause delays or disruption to projects.

"In my own practice, I have worked on international arbitrations where BIM-related issues have been one of several disputes to be resolved, and also a contributing factor to other design, delay and payment disputes," said White & Case partner Rebecca Shorter. "I would say that BIM related issues are a more common feature of delayed and disrupted projects these days."

However, used properly, Shorter says, BIM can help to reduce the number of disputes that arise in the construction industry. Firms seemingly agree; the NBS construction law report found that 70% of firms believe increased collaboration has helped to reduce the number of conflicts that arise in the sector.

Disputes resulting from unmet expectations, unexpected costs and delays are to be expected as the industry familiarises itself with new technologies but these cases also provide an opportunity to learn and adapt.

"New developments and processes always have the potential to result in failures and claims over responsibility for those failures, simply because those involved are not going to be fully familiar with them," Shorter says. "Increased familiarity will reduce these risks, and also any wrinkles or potential problems in the processes themselves will be ironed out as those using them learn from their mistakes and do things differently the next time."

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