Extensions of Time and Damages for Delay - Recent Developments

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Seb Oram

November 2012

A paper presented to the Society of Construction Law at a meeting in Reading on 25th September 2012

The twin topics of a contractor's right to an extension of time and an employer's right to damages for delay are raised perennially in litigation. They both concern delaying events, how their impact on the project can be assessed and on which party the risk of delaying events may fall. Seb Oram's paper starts from the basics about time provisions in construction contracts and explains the impact of 'the prevention principle', which may replace the building contractor's fixed deadline for completion (often backed by a liquidated damages clause) with a less demanding duty to complete only in a reasonable time; and he considers the impact of different versions of extension of time clauses on such a situation. He then looks as the difficulties caused where two separate events occur at the same time and are the effective cause of a period of delay: how do concurrent events impact on time for completion under the contract? How do they affect the operation of 'the prevention principle'? The final section of the paper looks at delay claims in general and what they can consist of, as well as how they can be made out. In every aspect, the paper contains detailed references to recent reported case law, so it's also a handy reminder of what is new in this field.

Introduction - The time for performance - Contracts with a fixed completion date: the prevention principle - Avoiding the prevention principle: construing extension of time clauses - The effect of concurrent events - Claims arising from delay - Building and proving delay claims - Final points.

Seb Oram is a barrister practising at 3 Paper Buildings in London.

Text 11 pages

Paper number: 
November 2012, online, 330k

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