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Construction law issues: Stopping work during a dispute

Massachusetts general contractors who work for the federal government may want to take some time to understand how stop-work orders affect their contracts. The government often relies on this aspect of construction law during a dispute. The theory behind it is that suspending all construction during a dispute will help prevent any further breaches of contract.

Most federal construction contracts include a clause authorizing this action for a variety of reasons. The process ordinarily begins with a notice of a stop-work order. It includes a description of the suspended activities and instructions regarding outstanding issues such as permits and work in progress. It may also include advice regarding subcontractors and other applicable issues.

The parties will then need to discuss who will make the determination that the order will cease or be extended. Any modifications must be made prior to the expiration of the original order. The process for canceling the order, the contract or any other actions also requires a discussion between the relevant parties. In some cases, this could be the government and the general contractor or the general contractor and subcontractors. If the parties wish to continue the contract, a resolution to the issues that required the work to stop must come to a resolution first.

If a Massachusetts construction contractor receives a notice regarding a stop-work order, it is imperative that it be addressed as soon as possible. Any significant delay, or cancellation of the contract, could seriously hinder the business. In this or any other contract dispute, it would be beneficial to discuss the matter with a construction law attorney experienced in dealing with these issues.

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