Archive for the ‘Construction Contracts’ Category

Contractors! Are Your Claims Responded to Correctly?

EC Harris’ (now Arcadis) Global Construction Dispute Report has, for many years, cited inadequately expressed claims as being one of the top five causes of disputes in the construction industry.

Although the reports do not specifically mention it, I suspect that inadequately and unfair determinations should also be somewhere near the top of this list. This is because over and over again, attendees at our courses complain that their claims have not been responded to either fairly or in a meaningful way.

So, what is the problem?

If we look at the FIDIC forms of contract as being fairly typical of the widely-used forms of contract, we can see that the Engineer has the following obligations when responding to claims:

  1. Respond to the claim within 42 days – Sub-Clause 20.1 (Contractor’s Claims);
  2. In a case of rejection, respond with detailed comments – Sub-Clause 20.1 (Contractor’s Claims);
  3. Include sums that the Engineer considers to have been reasonably substantiated as being due in interim payment certificates – Sub-Clause 20.1 (Contractor’s Claims);
  4. Consult with each party to attempt to reach agreement – Sub-Clause 3.5 (Determinations);
  5. Make a fair determination in accordance with the Contract – Sub-Clause 3.5 (Determinations);
  6. Give notice to parties with detailed particulars – Sub-Clause 3.5 (Determinations).

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Top 10 Secrets of Successful Subcontract Commercial & Claims Management

It is no secret at all that subcontracting is one of the highest risk sectors within our industry. Subcontractors suffer more than most from the mistakes and misdemeanours of others. If the project is poorly funded then the Main Contractor’s first course of action is to reduce outgoings. The easiest way to do this is to delay or limit payments to Subcontractors.

If the Main Contractor feels the pain of liquidated damages or the rejection of interim payment applications then the first to feel the impact will again be the Subcontractors (and often for reasons completely out with the Subcontractors’ own performance!). This is not the result of malice, rather an unpleasant commercial inevitability in jurisdictions without statutory protection for Subcontractors.  The reality is that the further you are away from the source of the project funding, the less likely it is that the cash will find its way to you.

However, there is much that the weary and / or wary Subcontractor can do to minimise their risk and maximise their recoveries. Here are our top 10:

“Back to Back” or “Pay when Paid”- Is it really? The authors of this piece very much doubt that this is indeed the case. What people declare as being “back to back” is rarely so. A Main Contractor may not have been paid for a variety of reasons. Unless those reasons expressly relate to your performance then you may legitimately ask why this has anything to do with you at all. Ask yourself “If the Employer never pays the Main Contractor does that mean I will never be paid?” Is that what you actually signed? We find this rarely to be the case and is often a cause of great confusion between Contractors and Subcontractors who blur the difference between the commercial reality of their financial position and the conditions of the Subcontract they have entered into. (more…)

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Crisis for Gulf Construction Companies?

Let’s take a look at what has been happening in the Gulf construction market recently.

Drake & Skull announced plans for a major restructuring after suffering losses in 2016 of AED 787M, an improvement on 2015 when they lost AED 939M. A few weeks ago 8,000 employees of the 40 year old company Saudi Oger received letters announcing that 31st July 2017 will be their last day at work. The company apparently owes $3.5Bn to Saudi banks. Arabtec needed a cash injection early this year too after announcing losses of AED 3.4Bn in 2016. In 2015 the losses were reported at AED 2.35Bn. In March last year Al Jaber missed a debt repayment of AED16.2Bn which had been put in place in 2014 to restructure the company and in August, they announced the sale of their share in ALEC and the Shangri-La Hotel Abu Dhabi to finance yet another restructuring exercise. Then there’s the fall out between Al Habtoor and Leighton, the list goes on and this is just the tip of the iceberg for the Gulf construction industry…the small sub-contractors, sub sub-contractors and suppliers don’t make news in the financial press.

What is going on with contractors in the Gulf? Is there no work?

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6 Key Actions UAE Contractors Should Take in Today’s Tough Market

UAE contractors are facing tough market conditions, with cash flow constraints and greater competition for fewer contracts placing a squeeze on margins. Expo 2020 is just around the corner now but much of the anticipated bonanza from Expo and related projects has yet to kick off. The region however still offers decent long-term fundamentals for companies prepared to ride out the current slowdown in the market.

In addition to the current slow down, UAE contractors still face pressure on cash-flow from trying to close out legacy projects, and be paid for projects delivered back in 2008-10. Many contractors are finding that market conditions in 2016 are tougher than in the previous year and most have witnessed an increase in construction disputes.

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How to Make Sure Your Claims are Accepted

If you wish to ensure that your claims are accepted, you need to bear in mind EC Harris’ (now ARCADIS) report Global Construction Disputes Report. This report cites incomplete and/or unsubstantiated claims as one of the major reasons for construction industry disputes.

A typical scenario that I have experienced on many occasions is when a contractor submits a badly prepared or ‘inadequately expressed’ claim to the engineer for evaluation and the engineer rejects the claim on the basis that the contractor has not proved his case. The engineer is quite correct to do this, because the onus is on the claimant to prove that the claim is just and in such a case, the Contractor has not done so. The Contractor, however, believing that he has good basis for the claim, then refers the matter as a dispute. (more…)

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