Are Milestone Payments an Adequate Payment Mechanism in Construction Contracts?

Blog Author: Martin Ewen – Fenwick Elliott In the recent case of Bennett (Construction) Limited v CIMC MBS Limited (formerly Verbus Systems Limited)¹ Court of Appeal considered whether milestone payments in a construction contract constituted an adequate mechanism for payment in terms of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, as amended (“the Act”). Martin Ewen explains more. Facts Bennett contracted to Verbus the design, supply and installation of 78 prefabricated modular bedroom units for a new hotel in London. The units were to…

Construction Contract Mistakes: That Wasn’t Quite What We Meant

Blog Author: Victoria Peckett – CMS When rectifying contracts to fix drafting mistakes, what happens if the parties disagree on what was meant? Construction contracts are often so voluminous that it can be easy for mistakes to creep in when putting them together and for the executed contract not to reflect what the parties think they have agreed in all respects. Often these mistakes can be sorted out by agreement — either the parties will amend the erroneous parts in manuscript before dating them, or…

Alliancing With Excellence

Blog Author: Peter Hibberd Those involved with construction frequently berate themselves and others for its poor performance; often rightly. However, there remains a failure to recognise fully what can be done to improve. The tendency to concentrate simply on improving efficiency is not enough because one can be efficient without creating value. What must be improved is quality and productivity as these will create project life value for the client and a better return to the participants without increasing costs disproportionately. Those two objectives are…

Practical Completion

Blog Author: Peter Hibberd The recent Court of Appeal case of Mears v Costplan Services (2019) EWCA Civ 502 is seen by some to once again raise, amongst other things, the issue of whether contracts should precisely define what constitutes practical completion. Practical completion is sometimes contrasted to substantial completion and even practically complete. However, none of these terms requires work to be completed in all respects before it is certified or is deemed to occur. As stated in Mears, ‘If there is a patent…

Court of Appeal Clarifies Meaning of “Practical Completion”

Blog Author: Joe Bennet – Associate and Alistair McGrigor – Partner, CMS A Court of Appeal decision in March has provided authoritative guidance as to when “practical completion” of construction works will be achieved. The existence of patent defects which are more than trifling will be sufficient to prevent “practical completion” and the intended purpose of the works is of relevance only in determining whether such defects are trifling. This considerably narrows the approach adopted by the TCC at first instance which allowed greater scope…

(Un)Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Anchor 2020 v Midas Construction

Blog Author: George Eyre – Hardwicke It is common practice for parties in the construction industry to undertake work under a letter of intent before the contract is formally executed. This practice ensures that design can be undertaken, materials can be procured, the site can be prepared and, ultimately, work can begin notwithstanding ongoing contractual negotiations. However, letters of intent often form the basis of disputes and their contractual status can be unclear. For example, letters of intent have been: held to have no contractual…

Do the Different Tiers of Building Contract Really Need to be Back to Back?

Blog Author: Alexandra Reid The main JCT contracts specify that where this is ‘considered appropriate’ the contractor should engage its sub-contractors using the relevant version of the JCT sub-contract which sits beneath the main contract in question. JCT contracts are therefore drafted in such a way that ‘back to back’ obligations are ensured. So what can this mean for contractors? A short answer is that the JCT has satisfied itself that its own sub-contracts have been carefully drafted to ensure that their key contractual terms…

The Big Question: Can You Pay Now and Argue Later?

Blog Author: Hazel Boland-Shanahan A top judge came out of retirement to help decide a crucial question around interim payments and adjudications, as Hazel Boland-Shanahan explains. Confusing case law on interim payments led to the rise of smash-and-grab adjudications. The Court of Appeal judgement in S&T (UK) Limited v Grove Developments provides reasoned clarity as well as other helpful guidance. Just because the sum stated in a payment certificate or default payment notice has become due, does not mean that it represents the true value…

The Impact of Digitalisation on Claims, Disputes and Their Avoidance

Blog Author: Charlie Woodley Research from HKA unveils the true complexity of causation and provides thought-provoking insight that illustrates how digitalisation can achieve dispute avoidance by proxy or reduce their severity and prevalence. Information technology is critical to our ability to manage complexity, inform decision-making, improve productivity, and reduce uncertainty, thereby mitigating risk. But technology alone will not suffice and broader digitalisation and transformation of organisations, supply chains or industry require investment in people, process as well as technology. Each must be considered equally, and…

Concurrent Delay: Allocating the Risk

Blog Author: Mark Wilkins – Fenwick Elliott Concurrent delay is an issue which continues to be a topic of much debate. Marc Wilkins explores how recently, the spotlight has turned to the enforceability of clauses which seek to allocate the risk of concurrent delays. In last year’s Annual Review Jeremy Glover reported on the decision of Mr Justice Fraser in North Midland Building Limited v Cyden Homes Limited¹. In July of this year the case came before the Court of Appeal². The dispute concerned a…