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Survey Article


Transactions within the construction industry are becoming increasingly complex as lawyers are required to consider intricate questions concerning such diverse areas as lender liability, insurance, and environmental law, along with the more traditional tort and contract principles. The recent economic downturn in the construction industry has changed the nature of the relationships between contractor, subcontractor, and developer, complicating the lawyer's task. This economic downturn has also sharpened the conflict in the Georgia Court of Appeals between age-old principles of contract and banking law and newer principles that may better reflect the increasingly complex legal environment. For example, Georgia courts have traditionally been willing to protect banks from lender liability claims, but this traditional immunity is at odds with the banks' willingness to become an active participant in the supervision of a construction project. Also, the courts are continuing to wrestle with exactly what role arbitration should play in the construction industry. The courts must decide whether to allow parties to choose binding arbitration and avoid the expenses and delays associated with litigation, or to so hamstring arbitral awards that they become nothing more than a precursor to a full-blown trial on the merits.