By MARTIN PRESTON
The UAE Civil Code governs construction (and other) contracts entered into in the UAE. As such, unlike in a common law system where, subject to certain statutory exceptions, the parties are free to agree to the content of their contract, the UAE Civil Code imports a number of requirements into construction contracts. These are mainly to be found between Articles 872 and 896. Some of the main provisions affecting construction contracts are:• Decennial liability: Article 880 of the Civil Code imposes a 10-year liability on contractors and consultants in relation to structural defects. This liability can neither be contracted out (of Article 882) nor does it appear that specific decennial liability insurance is available to cover off this risk as is the case in certain other jurisdictions with decennial liability (for example, France). However, the scope of decennial liability is limited to serious structural defects likely to result in the collapse of the building or structure rather than all defects to the works.• Liquidated damages/penalties: Either party to a contract may challenge the liquidated damages contained within a contract if the actual loss suffered is more or less than the liquidated damages (Article 390). This differs from the position under most common law jurisdictions where the enforceability of liquidated damages is determined by whether the damages were a genuine pre-estimate of loss at the date the contract was entered into. As is the case in most common law jurisdictions, however, it is rare that the courts will open up the liquidated damages agreed by the parties in their contract.
Key issues of UAE construction lawRead More »