A Brisbane-based law firm is developing a Security of Payment Platform (SoPP) to help save subcontractors from being ‘burnt’ by providing easy access to meaningful data on construction companies.
Janelle Kerrisk, joint founder of Helix Legal, is a construction litigator of 13 years’ experience who has witnessed time and again the impact of insolvency in the industry – particularly the impact on subcontractors.
“It always seems to be the subcontractor that ends up sleeping in his car or something like that as the final impact of these things,” she said.
“I’ve done a lot of research in relation to the various inquiries that have occurred in Australia dating back to 1995, trying to look at what the solution is and, because my firm is a technology-focused firm – the new law movement within law – I think that there is real opportunity to use technology and the developments happening outside of the construction industry to create a more informed industry.”
Helix Legal has partnered with Brisbane-based data intelligence firm Kapiche to develop the Security of Payment Platform (SoPP), described as ‘a cloud-based hub of aggregate data on construction companies.’
Subscribers will have access to a range of information – such as whether a contractor they were considering working with had been involved in adjudication, for example.
“You would be able to see the decisions handed down against them, how much they were for, who they might have been in dispute with before – so people can get a bit of a sense of the history of the person they’re doing business with,” Ms Kerrisk said.
“In the construction industry, I’ve done a lot of work with the regulators and there’s a bit of a cultural shift that needs to occur and I think the Security of Payments Platform can assist with that as well because access to good information can really change the playing field.
“I’m not talking about Facebook gossip sites or anything like that – this is good data coming from reputable sources and then being provided to the subcontractors in a dashboard format that is really easy to understand and follow.
“You can get the information that you need quickly and move on with business.”
Ms Kerrisk said the goal was to provide subcontractors with assistance earlier in the process, rather than reaching the point where they required help from a lawyer due to disputes with construction companies.
“There’s a whole lot of good information that can assist subcontractors,” she said.
“The QBCC, ASIC and Small Business Queensland all have information but it takes a really long time and is difficult to navigate to get the right information about, for example, the people that you’re doing business with.
“You can also gain insight into the operation of your business form an administrative perspective as well. “
The first stage of development has been focused on Queensland, but the proponents plan to offer the service Australia-wide and even internationally.
It is currently only available to selected subcontractors assisting Helix Legal with the final phase of development. Ms Kerrisk expects it to be released to the market this year.
“We’re taking expressions of interest from people interested in being involved moving forward, but it hasn’t been released to the market yet,” she said. “We’re still in the ironing-out-the-kinks phase.”