Principles of Construction Law

Subject 730-493 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Lecture: combined with subject 732-320 Construction Law
Tutorial (for LLB students only): classroom based and streamed to approx 20-25 students per tutorial. One tutorial consists of a field trip to construction site near Law School.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: 144 hours.

Obligations; Remedies, Contracts; Torts or in each case their equivalent.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Mr Matthew Bell
Subject Overview:

This subject provides a grounding in the specialist legal and commercial knowledge required in order to practice as a construction lawyer in Australia and overseas. This involves, primarily, the application to specific construction circumstances of principles of contract and negligence (including the detailed construction law treatment of defective work, failures to complete on time and variations to workscope).

A knowledge of how other areas of law and commerce impact upon the work of a construction lawyer will also be gained, including in respect of: contract drafting, the role and nature of standard forms, bases for commercial negotiation, project procurement, trade practices, insurance, litigation, dispute avoidance and alternative dispute resolution.

A site visit to a construction project is included in order to gain an understanding of how the principles of construction law are applied in practice.

Objectives: At the completion of the subject, students should be able to:
• Understand broadly the commercial and industry context within which construction law operates in Australia and overseas.
• Identify the key components of the legislative and regulatory framework governing the construction industry.
• Evaluate the appropriateness of different procurement models in the procurement of construction projects.
• Understand how causes of action in breach of contract and negligence both inform construction contract drafting and negotiation and apply to construction disputes.
• Recommend appropriate methods of dispute resolution and avoidance for situations commonly arising in the construction industry.
• Understand the role, within the context of construction law practice, of specialist areas of law including insurance, performance security, trade practices and professional liability.

- Research assignment on specific area of construction law (eg the “prevention principle”/ issues relating to variations by way of omission) or how law impacts upon the practice of construction (eg techniques for analysing alleged delay as against program): topics will be suggested but students can propose other topics for approval. Mid-semester, 40% of final mark, 2,500 words.
- Open-book exam. End of semester, 60% of final mark, 2 hours + reading time.

Prescribed Texts:

Printed materials will be issued by Melbourne Law School.

Recommended Texts:

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

At the completion of the subject students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of sources;
  • The capacity to engage in critical thinking and to bring to bear a range of conceptual analyses upon a given subject matter;
  • The capacity for independent thought and reflection;
  • The capacity to articulate knowledge and understanding of complex ideas in written form;
  • The ability to engage in interdisciplinary work;
  • The further enhancement of academic writing that engages with various modes of expression including descriptive, analytical and critical forms;
  • The capacity to plan and manage time;
  • The ability to confront unfamiliar or challenging issues and to consider appropriate ethical responses.

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