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 engineering1 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.