Seminar Overview


The Concrete Institute of Australia is pleased to present the seminar: “Who’s Responsible: Concrete Materials and Construction Law”.

Concrete is the most extensively used construction material in the world, and with the correct design, specification and construction can be extremely long lasting and durable. However, whether it be a cracked driveway or, as recently demonstrated with various bridge collapses around the world, things can go wrong, and David McDonald of BG&E Materials Technology explores this reality and the legal consequences of what can happen when there is an issue with the concrete, big or small through a closer look over two sessions via:
  • Session 1 – Introduction and an overview of concrete basics
  • Session 3 - Case studies - When good structures go bad
One of the most relevant and debated aspects of the construction industry is the resolution of disputes. Australia has a sophisticated construction law system and construction dispute resolution involves a range of professionals and specialist forensic engineers that go much beyond the legal activity. This makes the role of experts vital for an appropriate solution of a contest. Scott Higgins of Mills Oakley will discuss these main topics in two sessions:
  • Session 2 – Defective concrete  - Legal Construction Duties, Limitations and Warranties 
  • Session 4 - Defective concrete – Causes and responsibilities
With the terrain of Construction Law constantly changing, you need to stay on top of today’s best practices for preserving your claims, defences and even your workforce. Doing business the same way and applying the same principles and practices that you used ten, five or even two years ago could lead to troubled projects and even more troubling lawsuits. 
If you are involved in construction projects as an owner, contractor, design professional, or lawyer, you cannot afford to miss this event. Understanding concrete principals, how to protect the rights of your clients when dealing with private and public contracts, project delays, insurance and contract issues, and find out what strategies and tactics can help you successfully resolve your concrete related disputes.

Click here to download the seminar flyer


Seminar Presenters

Dr David McDonald
Since 1986 Dr. McDonald has been solving problems in construction with a focus on construction materials.  After graduating with his Ph.D. in 1990 from the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Sydney he spent a large portion of his career in Chicago, initially working with a consulting engineering organization working principally in durability and corrosion.  He worked on several structural collapses and large research projects on corrosion for the Federal Highway Administration.

David spent 10 years working on construction product development, gaining 8 US Patents for materials and processes and being awarded a Chicago Innovation Award.  During this period, he evaluated the future of construction and developing businesses for new systems.  He later spent time with the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute before returning to Australia in 2017. 
David is currently with BG&E in Sydney working on materials issues including construction defects, design of large concrete projects and renovation of existing concrete structures.

Mr Scott Higgins
Scott is a partner at Mills Oakley law firm with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, his areas of expertise include:

  • Construction (Contractors and Suppliers, Developers and Owners, Project Operators)
  • Infrastructure (Rail and Roads)
  • Green building and carbon regulation
Scott acts for institutional developer and contractor clients and ASX-listed companies and has a reputation amongst clients and peers for successfully steering complex and technical building, manufacturing, infrastructure and engineering disputes. Scott works closely with expert witnesses and Counsel to manage dispute resolution strategically and actively drives early settlement opportunities for clients wherever appropriate.

Scott regularly appears in the Supreme Court of NSW and the Court of Appeal, and he brings experience with alternative dispute resolution procedures including mediation, arbitration, expert determination, reference and adjudication.
Scott also has transactional expertise in project documentation, delivery and administration for institutional, developer and contractor clients. He has advised on, drafted and negotiated construction and design contracts and supply and project management/ consultancy agreements.  Scott also provides clients with specialist advice and drafting expertise in relation to green building compliance and regulation.


Seminar Topics and Agenda

Agenda and details Speaker/s
15:00: Session 1 – Introduction and an overview of concrete basics
  • A back-to-basics look at each material, and what impacts they have on the way concrete performs.
  • The role that alternative materials to Portland cement have and what can be expected.
  • The availability of materials, and what impact this may have in the future.
  • Comparison and contrast analysis of traditional materials and new materials, and their performance characteristics.
David McDonald
15:45: Session 2 – Defective concrete  - Legal Construction Duties, Limitations and Warranties
  • General common law duties of care owed
  • Contractual obligation
  • Proportionate liability
  • Statutory warranties
  •  Limitation periods under contract and under tort/negligence
Scott Higgins / Carlo Garofali
16:30  Break  
17:00: Session 3 Case studies - When good structures go bad
  • Why structures go bad
    • Design
    • Construction
  • Whom we blame
    • Materials Supplier
    • Contractor
    • Engineer
  • Who is at fault
    • What does the contract say?
    • What does it not say?
    • What is known
    • What is unknown
  • Where is the information?
    • Specifications
    • Reports
    • Field notes
  • Should you fight or just fix it
    • Cost/benefit
    • What does the owner want?
  • Example 1
  • Example 2 
David McDonald
17:45: Session – Defective concrete – Causes and responsibilities
  • Overview of when a dispute arises. 
  • Payment disputes and Security of Payments legislation – tips and traps and a summary of major changes being proposed
  • Dispute resolution methods
  • Liability issues down the supply chain (duty of care, contractual and statutory and home building)
  • Contract issues (fitness for purpose, design risks, warranties as to defects, retention of title etc)
Scott Higgins / Carlo Garofali
18:30 - 19:00   Q & A
David McDonald - Scott Higgins / Carlo Garofali


“Who’s Responsible: Concrete Materials and Construction Law”