In business, contracts are essential to protecting yourself during transactions with others. But if you deal with the federal government, then you might find yourself dealing with slightly different rules when it comes to contracts.

As of 1979, many contracts held with the federal government fall under the purview of the Contract Disputes Act. Contracts that cover the provision of services to the government or receipt of service from the government are included, as are contracts that deal with the purchase of property that isn’t real estate. Other contracts that are covered by the act deal with how personal property is disposed of and how real property is built, maintained and repaired.

The purpose of the CDA is to create provisions for resolving any disputes that might occur between the government and other contract holders. Instead of filing a lawsuit if you have a grievance in such contracts, you usually start with a formal complaint that seeks the decision of an officer in the matter.

A government contractor who files such a claim and is not happy with the outcome of the officer’s decision does have an appeal option. The contractor may either file an appeal with the appropriate appellate agency or file a lawsuit in the federal court system. The appeals and lawsuit rules come with a variety of fine print in the CDA, which makes it critical for contractors to understand all of their options and requirements.

Failing to appeal in a timely manner or follow the appropriate path for such filings can cause your case to be delayed or thrown out. Working with a business law attorney with experience in government contracts can help you avoid such issues.

Source: United States Department of Justice, “70. The Contract Disputes Act,” accessed June 10, 2016