THE LEGAL AND COMMERCIAL FRAMEWORKS
The term “construction law” admits of no easy definition. At least until the latter part of the twentieth century, there was not a branch of the law (or legal practice) that identified itself by that name. Lawyers and judges may have had involvement with cases concerning construction or engineering 1 projects, but by their reckoning they were not dealing with a discrete area of law. A dispute between a property owner and a builder over the adequacy of building work may have been regarded as a “contract” case, albeit one that happened to concern a building. A case about money owed to a builder was perhaps regarded as little different to a case about money owed to an unpaid merchant, or the commission due to a sales agent. Where a construction worker sued his employer for injuries suffered on a site due to his employer’s negligence, the case may have been thought of as one of “negligence” or “workmen’s compensation”. The fact that the worker was injured on a construction site, as opposed to, say, in a factory or a shop, was unimportant. For the purposes of legal taxonomy, the field of commerce from which the dispute arose was by the by.
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