All parties involved in construction projects – including contractors, employers, subcontractors and suppliers – should consider what steps they can take now to ensure that they are on a sound legal footing with respect to COVID-19 impacts when the dust settles and it becomes time to allocate responsibility for the consequences. This article sets out three practical steps that parties should be taking now to preserve their rights in respect of the COVID-19 fallout and minimise the risk of future disputes.
The International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Contracts Committee recently unveiled the much-anticipated new suite of rainbow contracts, with the publication of amended Red, Yellow and Silver Books. The changes reflect only some of the key amendments introduced by the revised 2017 FIDIC contracts. Nevertheless, the changes are significant and it will undoubtedly take time for contracting parties to become familiar with the revised contracts.
The Supreme Court recently found the well-established regime of registered employment agreements to be unconstitutional. Uncertainty regarding the level of protection for wages and benefits of workers in the construction sector followed this decision, but has now been addressed by the Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2017 and the Sectoral Employment Order (Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector) 2018.
The Federal Court recently delivered a landmark ruling in which it clarified points of law on the retrospective application of the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 (CIPAA) and the application of Section 35 of the CIPAA, which governs the validity of pay-when-paid clauses in construction contracts. The court's decision that the CIPAA has no retrospective effect is far reaching.
In 2018 Malaysia saw considerable developments in case law on statutory adjudication. Stakeholders' use of this form of dispute resolution mechanism continues to grow exponentially with no sign of abating. This article examines some of the significant decisions that the Malaysian courts handed down in 2018 and their impact on statutory adjudication under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act.
Malaysia witnessed considerable developments in statutory adjudication case law in 2017, probably due to the increasing use of this form of dispute resolution mechanism by stakeholders in the construction industry. This update examines some of the significant decisions that were handed down by the Malaysian courts in 2017 and their impact on statutory adjudication under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act.
The Court of Appeal recently considered whether a pay-when-paid clause in a construction contract is void under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act. It found that pay-when-paid clauses under a construction contract drawn up before the enactment of the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act will remain valid and not be affected by the introduction of Section 35, which prohibits any conditional payment clauses in construction contracts.
The Federal Court recently dealt with three broad issues under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act – namely, jurisdictional challenge, the exclusion of defences and the setting aside and staying of decisions. The decision has broad repercussions for the way that adjudications are conducted in Malaysia.
Swiss law is commonly used for construction contracts and is generally considered to be a safe option for good reason. But Swiss law does have some particularities that international parties might not expect. This article sets out five points that international parties should look out for when signing a Swiss law construction contract. With some forethought, parties can opt to contract out of these particularities or adequately address the allocation of risk that they entail.
The 2019 Conditions of Contract for Underground Works (Emerald Book) is a new standard form specifically for underground works that is the result of a lengthy collaboration between the International Federation of Consulting Engineers and the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association. The Emerald Book contains several features aimed at addressing geotechnical uncertainty, including geotechnical baseline reports and mechanisms to adjust the time for completion and contract price.
New Swiss arbitration rules that are intended specifically for construction disputes contain several notable changes that may foreshadow the evolution of international construction arbitration procedures. Some or all of these innovations, which are aimed at improving efficiency and facilitating settlements, may prove to find widespread adoption among parties negotiating international construction contracts and arbitral institutions revising their rules.
Terminating a construction contract is the last resort for employers frustrated by delays, defects or other problems. Three recent Supreme Court cases illustrate some of the pitfalls of termination for employers. In all three cases, the employers' attempt to terminate for cause was construed as termination for convenience, exposing the employers to significant liability towards the contractors, including for lost profits.
Clauses that require a contractor to obtain the employer's pre-approval of the cost of any additional works are increasingly common in lump-sum construction contracts. According to a recent Federal Supreme Court decision, these pre-approval clauses will be applied strictly, subject to certain exceptions. In its decision, the court enforced such a clause to deny a contractor's claim to recover the cost of additional works performed by a subcontractor.
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has now passed 115,000. Although economic loss can never compare to the loss of human life that so many have experienced across the globe, the construction industry should prepare for the inevitable business interruptions that will occur as this global pandemic hits the United States, delays in schedule occur and losses are felt economically.
Every construction project, from contract negotiation through to the payment of the final pay application, involves the issue of the exchange of lien waivers for payment. In particular, the issue is that parties lower in the construction chain must provide unconditional lien waivers as part of their request to be paid. There are a number of imperfect solutions to this problem, including a conditional release. However, blockchain and smart contracts could be the perfect solution.
Resolving construction disputes often involves unravelling complex issues and requires the analyses and opinions of expert witnesses in various industries relating to the project. Therefore, retaining an expert consultant as soon as litigation is imminent can be the difference between a party's pursuit or defence of construction litigation claims. To best utilise the leverage and advantages that non-testifying consultants offer, parties should retain legal counsel who are aware of the role that timing plays in expert retention.
Construction project schedules often generate disputes between project owners and contractors. These disputes commonly become the subject of claims that assign fault for delayed project completion to one party or another. When delays occur and float is available, each party may assume entitlement to the float on the project schedule and subsequent exemption from liability for damages relating to its delay; however, merely assuming float ownership can lead to unfavourable outcomes.
If a trade contractor submits a bid that a general contractor relies on to win a contract, questions may arise as to whether that bid is a contract and whether it is binding. Even if the bid does not meet the elements of a contract, it can still be binding. The courts apply the doctrine of promissory estoppel to hold parties to their bids in the absence of a contract. Differences in jurisdiction and in the facts of each case may affect the outcome, but when a bid is submitted it should be assumed to be binding.