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Building and construction


Building and construction

We provide expert and practical solutions to our clients working in the building and construction industry.

Our clients range from small to large property developers, contractors and sub-contractors, councils and statutory authorities.

We support our clients from the start to the end of a construction project on matters including:

  • contract negotiation

  • project documentation

  • contract administration

  • occupational health and safety issues

  • assessing and minimising risks

  • dispute minimisation and resolution, including litigation and arbitration

In the commercial and domestic building sector we work closely with builders, developers, contractors, sub-contractors, home owners and consultants and are actively involved in:

  • pre-contract advice and negotiation

  • building contract advice

  • risk management

  • insurance claims advice

  • legislation and regulation compliance

  • making and defending claims under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act

  • dispute resolution including resolution of domestic building disputes through Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV)


In April 2017, the DBDRV was established by the Victorian government to assist with the resolution of domestic building disputes. Most disputes between building owners and builders now need to go through the DBDRV process before they can proceed to VCAT. We can assist with the preparation of applications to the DBDRV including attending conciliation conferences with you.

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Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Insolvency and Bankruptcy

The legal framework around corporate and personal insolvency can be difficult to navigate for even the most experienced insolvency practitioners.  The dispute resolution team at Harwood Andrews is well equipped to provide specialised and proactive advice to all parties involved in insolvency.  Whether you are

  • an insolvency practitioner requiring specific and tailored legal advice including pursuing claims in an administration;

  • a creditor of a company in liquidation;

  • a creditor of a bankrupt; or

  • a potential bankrupt or director of a company facing insolvency,

We can assist you in navigating this technical area of law.

Insolvency Practitioners

Harwood Andrews has long provided advice to insolvency practitioners with respect to both litigious and non-litigious matters.   We can assist you with:

  • recovery of voidable transactions including unfair preference claims and other uncommercial transactions;

  • dealing with trust assets;

  • making Personal Property Securities Register and retention of title claims;

  • resolving remuneration disputes;

  • navigating settlement negotiations, including preparation of deeds of settlement;

  • undertaking public and private examinations;

  • preparing deeds of company arrangement; and

  • understanding your duties when exercising discretion.

Creditors and Mortgagees

Recovery of debt from an entity facing insolvency (corporate or otherwise) can be a frustrating process for secured and unsecured creditors alike.   The disputes team at Harwood Andrews is experienced in debt recovery and can assist creditors with:

  • understanding the ramifications of ipso facto reforms;

  • enforcing security;

  • debt recovery including letters of demand and commencing proceedings;

  • defending unfair preference claims;

  • issuing creditors statutory demands and wind up applications;

  • ensuring PPSR priority and enforceability; and

  • undertaking mortgagee sales.

Companies and individuals facing financial difficulty

Recent developments in the law mean that directors are provided with greater protection when navigating potential insolvency situations, with the aim of continuing to trade through difficult financial periods.  Harwood Andrews can assist at all stages, from the first signs of financial difficulty through to entry into voluntary administration. Specifically, we can assist with:

  • defending litigation brought by creditors;

  • undertaking negotiations with creditors;

  • guidance through the process of voluntary liquidation and administration or filing a debtors petition;

  • defending winding up applications in the Supreme and Federal Court systems;

  • defending insolvent trading claims and providing advice with respect to safe harbour reforms;

  • setting aside bankruptcy notices and creditors statutory demands; and

  • asset protection.

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Commercial and property disputes

Commercial and property disputes

We offer a comprehensive suite of dispute resolution services geared towards personalised service to our clients and offer on-site visits and in-house seminars to keep our clients informed of developments that affect them.

We provide expert advice and counsel in areas including:

  • shareholder and business ownership disputes

  • farm business disputes

  • commercial disputes

  • mortgage default and debt recovery

  • insurance disputes

  • retail and commercial tenancy

  • land ownership disputes

  • professional negligence claims

  • disputes with regulatory bodies and government agencies including ASIC and ACCC

  • franchising disputes

  • trusts and will disputes

  • owners corporation disputes

To focus on just a few of these:

Commercial litigation

Commercial litigation is a key feature of our dispute resolution and litigation practice. We advise on contractual disputes including trade practices claims, disputes in relation to land, partnership and shareholders’ disputes, recovery of debt, commercial tenancy disputes and claims in relation to defective equipment.

Commercial litigation is a large umbrella and no two matters are identical, but our years in this field mean that there is a wealth of experience we can draw on to address each client’s circumstances.

Shareholder and business ownership disputes

Many small to medium sized businesses face disputes between shareholders.  Often these shareholders are family members.  Shareholder disputes typically take the form of “oppression” claims commenced in the Supreme Court of Victoria under the provisions of s 233 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).  Although individual disputes will differ, all these disputes have in common allegations that the affairs of a company have been conducted in an oppressive manner.

Oppression claims are commonly instituted by minority shareholders where they believe:

  • they have been “shut out” of the company’s decision making process; and/or

  • the majority shareholders have been making decisions for the benefit of some, rather than all of the shareholders.

Examples of specific conduct giving rise to a potential oppression claim include:

  • the misuse of company funds; 

  • payment of excessive remuneration to directors or their associates; 

  • exclusion from management and meetings; 

  • refusing to allow access to company information; and 

  • the issue of additional shares for the purpose of diluting a shareholding.

Oppression claims are particularly common in family companies, where decisions are often made with personal, as well as commercial objectives.  The dispute resolution team at Harwood Andrews is well equipped to assist small to medium sized business navigate these multifaceted circumstances.

Owners corporation disputes

If you are an apartment or unit owner it is likely you are part of an owners corporation. As a member there are certain procedures that must be followed which you may not even be aware of.  It is important that owners corporation members and committee members understand these procedures, their rights and responsibilities.  

The procedures involved with owners corporations can become quite complicated and where they are not followed it can result in costly consequences. This is why it is imperative for property owners or committees to ensure they are compliant and are obtaining the right legal advice

Disputes & Insolvency Lawyers

Disputes & Insolvency Lawyers

Richard Anderson
Accredited Specialist in Commercial Litigation
0419 533 974  | 03 5226 8524

Ali Erskine
Special Counsel
0419 884 992  | 03 5225 5208

Ben Broadhead
Special Counsel
0413 561 332  | 03 5226 8549

Daniel Fullerton
Harwood Andrews
03 5225 5203