Time is of the Essence for Claim Submissions

The consultancy side of our business has just been appointed by a contractor to prepare an extension of time claim. The contractor exceeded the completion date 3 months ago and although there are many employer-caused delays, he has not so far submitted any claims for extensions of time.

Unfortunately, this approach by contractors is all too typical and although it often results in work for consultants such as ourselves, it is disadvantageous to the contractor in many ways.

We now have to deal with a claim for 17 employer-caused delay events, which will be a very time consuming and complicated process. Until such time that we prepare the claim and the engineer has reviewed it, delay penalties will continue to be deducted from the contractor.

From both a preparation and a review point of view, 17 separate small claims are easier and quicker to review than one large claim for 17 delay events. It would have been much better to submit the claims as and when each delay occurred.

For the same reason, to complete such a large task with existing resources may not be possible, so additional cost may have to be expended to bring in a consultant.

The engineer, when presented with a claim for 17 delay events, will undoubtedly need a significant amount of time to review the claim and issue a response or determination, adding more time to the finalisation.

If one or two of the heads of claim are not agreed by the engineer, then any entitlement forthcoming for the others will be held up until the contentious issues are resolved.

Some of the delay events happened 10 months ago. Over time, memory grows hazy and although records should be available to substantiate the facts, claims are best dealt with contemporaneously when memories are clearer.

Had the contractor dealt with the claim early in the contract period, the engineer would have been sent a message that the contractor is prepared to pursue his entitlement under the contract, which may have encouraged a more reasonable determination than may otherwise be made.

The wait-and-see philosophy of leaving claims until the end of the project almost never works, because at this time, the engineer and employer have a completed project and there is little incentive for them to resolve matters in the contractor’s favour. Additionally, it is more than possible that when the project has been completed, the person responsible for claims from the engineer’s side may have been moved to a new project and be less than enthusiastic about dealing with old issues.

The lesson here is to submit separate claims for each event as soon as possible after the event occurs.