Having practiced as engineers and scientists before Law, our attorneys understand the issues which often underlie engineering law issues such as the need for precise interpretation of engineering specifications and expeditious resolution of disputes which arise during the execution of an engineering or construction project thereby to permit the project to proceed apace to a successful conclusion.
Thus, we are able to provide services related to the drafting and/or interpretation of contracts with engineering and scientific content. Where problems arise with the interpretation of previously drafted contracts we can offer mediation, arbitration and, if all else fails, litigation services to bring about an expeditious end to the dispute. Please read our Mediation and Arbitration section regarding our mediation and arbitration services.
Experience has shown that where an engineer or scientist who is also an attorney becomes seized of a matter relating to engineering law usually the issues can be addressed without the need for external experts.
In the article “Shouldn’t your lawyer be an engineer too?” scheduled to appear in the publication, Chemical Technology of May 2007, one of our attorneys, J F Luterek, Pr.Eng, wrote about the communication gap which can arise between engineers and attorneys. The communication gap is contributed to by the subjective nature of law where judges interpret the law in a continuously changing manner while the laws of science and engineering are largely static and have an objective interpretation (as long as the specification is drafted correctly!). Thus, an engineer, used to singular interpretation the constant laws on nature, usually expects that a clause in a contract only has one interpretation whereas in reality there may be several ways to interpret the same clause depending on circumstances. An attorney on the other hand may not comprehend the implications of a clause in a contract which prescribes a material, product or process specification or the complications which can arise in engineering and construction projects.
An example of where an engineer who is also an attorney would have been very useful is the D & H Piping Systems (Pty)Ltd case, which was decided in the Supreme Court of Appeals in 2006. In that case, the liability of a manufacturing seller for consequential loss arising out of a latent defect in goods sold by him to a customer was decided by the Court.
In a case such as this one it would have been advantageous to have an Engineer on the team of lawyers dealing with the case. In our opinion the best place to resolve this matter, and other construction law and engineering law matters, would have been at Mediation and Arbitration rather than the route which was followed which lasted 8 years.
If you believe that your attorney should be an engineer too and have a matter in which we can be of assistance then please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our Mr Luterek by telephone on +27 12 342 0563 or by fax on +27 11 604 0037.