Posts Tagged ‘claim’

RECORDS, RECORD, RECORDS – Importance for Contract Claim

Contract Requirement

Max Abrahamson in his book Engineering Law and The ICE Contract wrote

” A party to a dispute, particularly if there is an arbitration will learn three lessons (often too late) the importance of records, the importance of records and the importance of records”. This quotation came to mind recently when I read the judgement in the case of Attorney General for the Falkland islands v Gordon Forbes construction (Falklands) Limited. A contract was let for the construction of the infrastructure of the East Stanley Housing Development in the Falkland Islands using the FIDIC 4th Editions conditions.

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The ‘notices’ provision

by Dennis Brand
Many of you will deal with industry-standard form contracts, while others will deal with company standard or even bespoke forms; whatever the form of contract, the notices provision contained in the conditions of contract is probably one of the least-read provisions. The notices provision does not attract the same degree of interest as, say, the variation or change order provisions, or provisions which deal with certificates of completion, suspension or even termination, but in each case a notice is required.

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The Importance of Documents During the Crisis

It is undeniable that UAE is now facing the onslaught of the global financial crisis. Although UAE’s oil revenue has cushioned the impact of the crisis to some extent, the speed in which the impact of the crisis is spreading across the real estate and construction industries, particularly in Dubai, is unprecedented.
The number of construction projects being scaled back or even suspended is on the rise. Consequently, we have been receiving an increasing number of enquiries and instructions from employers and contractors involving suspension and termination issues. Inevitably, some projects will fall into dispute whenever a party decides to suspend or terminate the contract. A dispute or a chain of disputes may occur at any level, be it between the master developers and sub-developers, sub-developers and its consultants or contractors, or down to the level between the contractors and its sub-contractors and suppliers. (Read more..)

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‘Swift’ arbitration is key

‘Swift’ arbitration is key
by Dr Chandana Jayalath
Construction contracts often include ‘keep working provisions’ for the parties to perform their obligations, despite the existence of a dispute. The contract may expressly forbid the contractor’s right to suspend work or terminate the contract, although inconsistent with the local law.
For example, under English law, there is a statutory right to suspend work for non-payment, which can not be excluded by contract.
Also, the employer may have the right to require a contractor to proceed with variations despite the time and cost consequences, not having been agreed in advance. In a fixed lump sum contract, the contractor may lodge a claim for variation, but the employer might deny it upfront on the basis of ‘lump sum’ or pay half of the cost pending evaluation at a later stage. The engineer may ask the contractor to go ahead with the rates he deems suitable whenever the contractor has no option, because of his obligation to complete works on time.
Although the contractor is supposedly responsible for quantity errors, in any typical lump sum contract where the quantities are said to be actual and correct, he will purposely keep silent in a windfall such as overestimated quantities that bring him money for nothingAlthough the contract expressly says no re-measurement is possible, the losing party may bring out this case and attempt to interpret the function of re-measurement as the ‘standard practice’.
There is usually a term implied to the effect that the client will not prevent the contractor from carrying out work in accordance with the terms of the contract, which is sometimes referred to as the prevention principle. In the UK case of Peak Construction (Liverpool) Ltd v McKinney Foundations Ltd (1970), some defective work was discovered before practical completion had been achieved.
The client was responsible for long delays owing to failure to approve a scheme of remedial works. A dispute arose concerning the contractor’s entitlement to an extension of time. Unfortunately, there was no specific provision for an extension of time when the contractor is delayed by the client, which is a fatal shortcoming in the contract. Another aspect is that many contracts do not have a mechanism to compensate the loss behind unprecedented price escalation in the Gulf region. This is where swift solutions are required to minimise potential losses suffered by parties, instead of allowing ‘loss to prevail where it lies’, particularly when contracts are silent.
Perhaps some claims are indeed necessary and the provision for making claims is essential in order to accommodate unavoidable changes, for example by granting justifiable extensions without invalidating the contract. However, problems arise when the provision is abused, for example by contractors who allegedly tender at low prices with the objective of profiting from their claims. For example, the government sector has now been bombarded by claims more than ever before.
Claims specialists have been busy with compiling claims for work suspended in recession. On the other hand, clients who attempt to aggressively suppress legitimate claims may provoke exaggerated, unjustified or even frivolous claims with the help of their in-house experts. Needless to say, the vicious circles generated by such exaggerated actions and reactions definitely add to the avoidable costs of construction.
The author therefore strongly believes in a speedy, flexible and a fair process, indeed a gentlemanly way to resolve disputes between gentlemen, as Alexis Mourre says, rather than too formal court lawyering. This is where ‘swift’ arbitration comes into play in the context of construction thus minimising the legal expenses for making and breaking claims and demoting the tendency towards interim awards and temporarily-binding decisions.
CW

by Dr Chandana Jayalath

Construction contracts often include ‘keep working provisions’ for the parties to perform their obligations, despite the existence of a dispute. The contract may expressly forbid the contractor’s right to suspend work or terminate the contract, although inconsistent with the local law. (Read more..)

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Construction disputes: The Saudi experience

by Michael Dunphy and James Bremen

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has not been left behind in the construction boom, which has swept the Middle East in the past decade.

Strong growth supported by high oil prices has meant KSA has had increased demand for petro chemical projects, IWPP’s, power, infrastructure and new housing and retail developments. (Read more..)

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Contractor woes

by Jeffrey Badman

Hill International director Jeffrey Badman.The contractor has submitted his extension of time claim, some months have passed but no award or response has been forthcoming from the engineer – an all too familiar scenario experienced by most contractors at one time or another.

So what can the contractor do next? There are some initial practical avenues that can be taken in an attempt to secure an award: (Read more..)

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Disputes in Dubai: more to come?

Dubai has recently seen record numbers of construction-related court cases and arbitrations and its arbitral institutions should now prepare for a second wave before the year-end, writes HENRY QUINLAN*.
DUBAI has not escaped the widespread effects of the global economic downturn, which has had a wide impact on the construction sector, largely due to the enormous number and scope of projects in the emirate.
Liquidity has been one of the main casualties of the downturn which, together with falling property values, has put both developers and contractors under significant financial pressure. (Read more..)

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Factors to consider when preparing a disruption claim

by David Merritt

Disruption claims are routinely made during the course of a construction project yet they remain notoriously difficult to prove. One of the main reasons for this is that productivity losses are often extremely difficult to distinguish, as opposed to other money claims which are more directly concerned with the occurrence of a distinct and compensable event, such as an instruction for a variation during the progress of work or a properly notified compensation event.
Most claims for disruption are dealt with retrospectively and the claimant is forced to rely on contemporary records to try and establish a causal nexus for identified losses (cause & effect), which are inadequate for evidencing a loss of productivity claim.
When this happens the claimant is often forced into the situation where it advances a weak global or total cost claim to try and recover its losses. The claimant must first establish that the factor causing the disruption is compensable risk under the contract.
To do this, the contract needs to be reviewed to understand the basis of the agreement as certain productivity issues may have been foreseeable and therefore accounted for within the claimant’s productivity allowances. The contract may also identify if a party expressly accepted certain productivity risks. Common causes of disruption on projects that may lead to a loss of production include site access restrictions, unforeseen site conditions, late or incorrect design, changes in the work, labour availability, remedial/corrective work, testing/inspections, client and third party interference, changes in construction methods and adverse weather.
The primary challenges the claiming party faces in preparing a disruption claim are to identify the root cause of the loss of productivity and quantifying the associated labour and equipment productivity losses. Many methods exist to quantify a disruption claim such as the measured mile; the modified total cost approach; a time and motion study or a comparative work study.
Alternatively research data published by the Mechanical Contractor Association or the National Electrical Contractors Association on the effects of disrupted working may be utilised but care must be exercised because no one size fits all.
Productivity is normally measured as production per unit of effect or output divided by input (ie units/hr) or it may be expressed as input divided by output (ie hrs/unit). A loss of productivity occurs when it takes more labour and equipment to do the same amount of work, thereby increasing project costs. A common error made by a claiming party when preparing a disruption claim is to confuse productivity with efficiency.
Efficiency is a measure of productivity as a ratio or percentage during the affected periods. If target production is 50 units per day and actual production is 25 units per day then given the same input the efficiency of the operation would be 50%. If actual production was equal to the target production efficiency would be 100%. The efficiency formula must take into account the variable input (resources) as well as variable output (production).
For instance it is possible to increase productivity but reduce efficiency. A decrease in efficiency is often associated with one or more secondary factors unrelated to the original excusable event but which are implemented to negate or mitigate the effects of the root cause. These secondary factors include out of sequence working, multiple work fronts, new learning and unlearning curves, fatigue (overtime/shift working), dilution of supervision and stacking of trades in confined spaces.
So when preparing a disruption claim for a loss of productivity it is very important to consider not just immediate effects on the rate of production but also the inefficiencies of some of the secondary factors.

Disruption claims are routinely made during the course of a construction project yet they remain notoriously difficult to prove. One of the main reasons for this is that productivity losses are often extremely difficult to distinguish, as opposed to other money claims which are more directly concerned with the occurrence of a distinct and compensable event, such as an instruction for a variation during the progress of work or a properly notified compensation event.

Most claims for disruption are dealt with retrospectively and the claimant is forced to rely on contemporary records to try and establish a causal nexus for identified losses (cause & effect), which are inadequate for evidencing a loss of productivity claim.

When this happens the claimant is often forced into the situation where it advances a weak global or total cost claim to try and recover its losses. The claimant must first establish that the factor causing the disruption is compensable risk under the contract. (Read more..)

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The TIA route to resolving disputes

The TIA route to resolving disputes
Time impact analysis is becoming an increasingly popular method of resolving construction disputes without litigation. MICHAEL HARDY* details the steps to be considered and the benefits of using the method
FUNDS for a large number of construction projects in the region are drying up. This, coupled with a substantial reduction in the cost of labour and materials, has meant that some developers are reconsidering their current projects with a view to renegotiating more favourable terms or seeking to alter the original scope.
Should a developer fail to persuade its contractor to agree to a re-scoping exercise, the developer may then be faced with a claim for delay caused by what, in effect, amounts to a contract variation.
Given the financial pressure developers are currently facing, there may also be increasingly valid grounds for contractors to make extension-of-time claims in respect of delays caused by, for example, non-payment or the late provision of information.
Whatever the cause, the contract administrator (often an engineer) must apply a methodology to determine whether and to what extent an extension of time should be awarded.
There are a number of different ways to determine an extension of time and it is not uncommon for parties to disagree upon the methodology used. If the contract follows a particular industry form, there may already be a specific methodology applicable. However, most standard form contracts fail to address the issue adequately.
For example, the Fidic Conditions of Contract are commonly used in the Gulf yet fail to promote a specific approach to extensions of time. Fidic’s Red Book uses the words: “If and to the extent that completion … is or will be delayed” but fails to consider the appropriate methodology to decide such delay.
Time impact analysis (TIA) is a method typically used to resolve complex disputes. In order to undertake a time impact analysis, the six sequential steps below must be considered:
1. Has a cause entitling the contractor to an extension of time arisen (an “Event of Delay”)?
2. Identify the programme against which any delay is to be assessed. By way of example, in the case of the Fidic Red Book, the contractor is obliged to submit a programme and to revise it “whenever the previous programme is inconsistent with actual progress or with the contractor’s obligations”. Consequently, the last such accepted (or deemed accepted) programme which most recently pre-dates the ‘event of delay’ identified should be used.
3. Without taking into account the event of delay itself, revise the programme identified in Step Two, so that it reflects:
(i) The reality that pertains at the time immediately before the occurrence of the ‘event of delay’; and;
(ii) A plan for the remaining works which complies with the contractor’s duties as to programming and progressing of the works.
4. Identify planned time for completion on the revised programme developed in Step Three.
5. Identify the activities on the revised programme that will be affected by the ‘event of delay’, and then assess the effect of it on each of those activities. Finally, impact the ‘event of delay’ on those activities, in order that the revised programme takes account of the ‘event of delay’.
6. Finally, consider whether the planned time for completion has changed following the impact of the ‘event of delay’ determined at Step Five.
As to Step Three, contractors are often tempted to use an unamended version of the accepted programme to assess events of delay, irrespective of how out of date it may be. Whilst there is no reported case law in England on this point, for the contractor not to revise the programme to reflect the position immediately prior to the event of delay, is often self-serving.
Consider a project where the programme is severely out of date and the contractor is in culpable delay. If the contractor were to be entitled to assess an extension of time against the out-of-date programme, the culpable delay in the period after that programme but before the event of delay occurred would be completely ignored, thereby reflecting reality from a frozen point in time in the past and failing to accurately demonstrate the cause and effect of the delay.
This would permit the contractor to evade liability for culpable delay and effectively provide him an incentive to stop issuing programmes for acceptance in the future, in order to avoid future liability for culpable delay. The contractor could take advantage of its own wrongdoing by benefiting from a breach of contract (be it the culpable delay or the failure to submit revised programmes).
That being said, Article 246(1) of the UAE Civil Code introduces an implied term to carry out obligations in good faith, which would seem contrary to this approach.
Conversely, employers are sometimes tempted to take hindsight into account and to use a programme that post-dates the event of delay. This is similarly not permitted. Time impact analysis does not permit events to be taken into account if they post-date the event of delay in question. In other words, a retrospective approach, which allows the benefit of hindsight, is not permitted.
In relation to Step Five above, another argument known to surface is whether the assessment or “snapshot” date should be the date at which the assessment is made (or ought to have been made) or the date of the occurrence of the event of delay itself. This is probably an arguable point and depends on contractual drafting.
However, reliance on the date of assessment (as opposed to the date of the event of delay itself) would result in differing degrees of hindsight, depending on when the assessment occurred.
For example, the Fidic Red Book allows the engineer to make its determination within either 42 days after receiving the contractor’s particulars of claim, an alternative period mutually agreed or, alternatively, seek further particulars. This leaves the position open to manipulation. Aside from anything else, carrying out the assessment as at the date of the event of delay would ensure consistency irrespective of how quickly the assessment is made afterwards and would also be truer to the concept of a time impact study (as supported by the Society of Construction Law Protocol on Delay and Disruption).
The downside of the time impact methodology is that it places considerable importance on the programme and on the contractor continually updating the programme so as to reflect reality.
However, the benefits of time impact analysis in terms of prudent project management and progress tracking are to a large degree self-evident.
The parties know where they stand as the works progress as regards contractual entitlements flowing from events at the employer’s risk. This works to all parties’ mutual benefit and should help to avoid large scale after-the-event disputes on projects that encounter difficulties.
However, if the actual process of time impact assessment does not take place within a short period after the event occurring, it can be very burdensome and expensive to revisit. Clearly, it is in both parties’ best interests not to adopt a “wait-and-see” approach, but immediate action is something which is sadly more honoured in the breach than the observance.
Developers, contractors and engineers need to be prepared for these issues and to deal with them effectively, so as to protect their contractual rights (both in existing and future contracts) in what are trying economic conditions

Time impact analysis is becoming an increasingly popular method of resolving construction disputes without litigation. MICHAEL HARDY* details the steps to be considered and the benefits of using the method

FUNDS for a large number of construction projects in the region are drying up. This, coupled with a substantial reduction in the cost of labour and materials, has meant that some developers are reconsidering their current projects with a view to renegotiating more favourable terms or seeking to alter the original scope. (Read more..)

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Force Majeure – It’s expected

by Martin Chapman

So what is a force majeure clause? Just about all construction contracts contain such a clause and designed to address risks which cannot necessarily be insured and which are outside of the control of the parties to the contract. (Read more..)

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