FIDIC ‘launched’ the FIDIC 2022 reprints at the FIDIC International Construction Users’ Conference 2022, in London. The reception to the changes was mixed – some embraced the clarity; others questioned the significance and cost. This article draws your attention to 10 of the key areas of change in respect of the FIDIC Red Book 2017 including the definition of Claim, matters to be agreed or determined, the definition of Dispute and Exceptional Events.
This Practice Note is an introduction to the FIDIC Green Book 2021 (the Short Form of Contract). It is not a fully detailed clause-by-clause commentary. This article was first published by LexisPSL
Construction costs are escalating. Under existing contracts, an employer will not want to pay more for the works. But forcing a contractor to perform works that are unprofitable or causing a massive loss is unlikely to be in the best interests of the project. It may result in the insolvency of the contractor forcing the employer to abandon the contract or re-let it, probably at a premium. Is a mechanism for cost adjustment, such as FIDIC 1999 Sub-Clause 13.8 [Adjustments for Changes in Costs], an answer?
Could provisions in FIDIC contracts giving relief for ‘Force Majeure’ or ‘Exceptional Events’ provide relief to contractors suffering as a result of price escalation? It is well documented that construction and engineering projects around the globe are being affected by extreme and sometimes unprecedented price escalation. This is for many reasons including the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Unfortunately, under the FIDIC Red and Yellow Books 1999, the right of an Employer to set off from an amount already certified in a Payment Certificate but unpaid is inexplicit. Once the Employer has a Sub-Clause 3.5 determination, it may ask the Engineer to deduct the amount determined from the next Payment Certificate. This is clear. But rather than rely on the Engineer, can the Employer instead, itself, deduct by way of set off from an amount already certified in a Payment Certificate but unpaid? This is not clear.
Covid-19 has had huge consequences around the world and unfortunately
FIDIC is concerned about its image. It says that heavily amending the FIDIC forms of contract impacts upon the FIDIC brand and that this is damaging FIDIC’s reputation. It seeks to address this with the introduction of five Golden Principles. But the Golden Principles are merely aspirational; they are not binding and have no contractual effect. Does this render them a pointless gesture ‘trying to hold back the tide’?
In all construction contracts, one of the central principles is the Employer’s obligation to pay the contract price. The Contractor will be wary about the Employer’s financial standing and ability to pay and concerned to ensure that payments are made on time and that effective remedies are available in case of late or non-payment. The FIDIC standard forms of contract contain provisions dealing with these aspects.
Although Clause 17 is titled ‘Risk and Responsibility’ it also sets out other provisions relating to indemnities, limitation of liability and, unusually, the specific topic of intellectual and industrial property rights. The clause provides that the Contractor assumes responsibility and bears the risk for the care of the works during execution and for remedying any defects during the Defects Notification Period. Risk transfers to the Employer on issue of the Taking–Over Certificate to the extent of works defined as being completed. Generally, in construction contracts ‘risk’ is understood to mean an event or circumstance which causes delay, loss or damage to the Works. A risk can be said to be Employer caused, Contractor caused or neutral. The purpose of risk allocation is to determine which party bears the risk for such events. The Contractor may be required to remediate the damage at his own cost or the Employer may be required to pay for the damaged works. It has been stated that the “FIDIC standard forms are generally recognised as being well balanced because both parties bear parts of the risks arising from the project.”
Clause 8 contains all the fundamental provisions relating to the start of the Works, the Time for Completion, delays and the entitlement of the Contractor to an extension of time and of the Employer to delay damages, and finally the circumstances in which a suspension of the Works can occur and the implications for the Parties.
Click through to read Corbett & Co.'s helpful commentary on FIDIC Red Book 1999 book - Clause 7
Clause 6 deals with Staff and Labour. These provisions need to be read with the applicable laws where the works are being carried out or the relevant employment law if different. Sub-Clause 6.1 commits the Contractor (unless otherwise specified) to pay for his staff and their housing feeding and transport. Sub-Clause 6.2 requires the Contractor not to pay lower wages or give lower conditions than those generally applicable locally. Sub-Clause 6.3 forbids the Contractor from attempting to recruit from the Employer’s Personnel. Sub-Clause 6.4 requires the Contractor to abide by labour laws and to require his staff to obey the law generally. Sub-Clause 6.5 forbids work on locally recognised rest days or outside the working hours set out in the Appendix to Tender, unless stated in the Contract or agreed to by the Engineer or essential for the protection of life or property or for safety reasons. Sub-Clause 6.6 requires the Contractor to provide and maintain all necessary accommodation for its personnel and for the Employer’s personnel to the extent stated in the Specification. It is forbidden from permitting its own Personnel from living within the structures forming part of the Permanent Works. Sub-Clause 6.7 requires the Contractor to maintain the health and safety of its personnel and maintain proper medical facilities for its own personnel and for any Employer Personnel accommodated. It is required to appoint an accident prevention officer. It is required to notify the Employer of any accidents and maintain records. Sub-Clause 6.8 requires the Contractor to provide all necessary superintendence by a sufficient number of properly qualified people with adequate knowledge of the defined language of communications. Sub-Clause 6.9 requires the Contractor to ensure that its personnel are properly qualified, skilled and experienced. The Employer may require the Contractor to remove any person employed on the Site or the Works who commits misconduct, is incompetent or negligent, fails to perform in accordance with any provision of the Contract or persists in any conduct prejudicial to health, safety or the environment. If a person is removed the Contractor will have to replace him. Sub-Clause 6.10 requires the Contractor to submit to the Engineer details showing personnel and equipment on Site. This is required each month and must be in a form approved by the Engineer. Sub-Clause 6.11 requires the Contractor to take reasonable precautions to prevent disorderly conduct by Contractor’s Personnel and to preserve the peace and protection or nearby persons and property.
Much has been said about the new Red, Yellow and Silver Books 2nd Editions launched by FIDIC in December last year. The most obvious comment has been about their size, almost 50,000 words, which is some 60% longer than the 1999 forms. Although the 1999 forms were not perfect, most regular users seem to be agreed that they did not need 20,000 words to fix the issues. This consensus led this author to attempt to cherry-pick the good bits from the 2017 forms and to propose amendments to add the good ideas to the 1999 forms. The amendments apply to all three forms unless it is indicated otherwise.
MT Højgaard AS v E.ON Climate and Renewables UK Robin Rigg East Ltd & Anor is an important English case because it considered a fitness for purpose obligation in a design and build contract. In FIDIC’s Yellow Book contracts (1999 and 2017) there are also fitness for purpose obligations. This article examines the Supreme Court’s analysis of a fitness for purpose obligation in the Højgaard case and whether it would be applied to FIDIC’s Yellow Book contracts.
Clause 14 deals with all aspects of payment. It also deals with the Statement at Completion, the Final Payment Certificate, Discharge and Cessation of the Employer’s Liability. The Clause provides that this is a re-measurement contract and that the quantities stated in the Bill of Quantities are estimated. There is provision for an advance payment to be made to the Contract. Applications for Interim Payment Certificates are made monthly and these must be supported by documents and a report on progress. Unless the amount assessed is less than the minimum amount set out in the Appendix to Tender, the Engineer has 28 days to issue an Interim Payment Certificate, which states the amount the Engineer fairly determines to be due. The Employer thereafter has an obligation to pay the amount certified, in the currencies named in the Appendix to Tender. In the event that payment is not received the Contractor can claim financing charges compounded monthly. Fifty per cent of the retention monies are paid when the Taking-Over Certificate is issued. Where there are Sections then a proportion is paid. The balance of retention is paid on the expiry of the latest Defects Notification Period or, where there are Sections, a proportion at the expiry of the Defects Notification Period for that Section. Within 84 days of receiving the Taking-Over Certificate the Contractor submits a Statement at Completion. This must include an estimate of all sums which the Contractor considers due. Within 56 days of receiving a Performance Certificate, the Contractor submits a Final Statement. The Contractor must also submit with the Final Statement a written discharge which confirms that the total of the Final Statement represents full and final settlement of all moneys due. The Engineer then issues to the Employer a Final Payment Certificate. The Contract states that the Employer shall have no liability to the Contractor except to the extent that the Contractor has included an amount expressly for that matter in the Final Statement and also the Statement at Completion.
Clause 3 deals with the duties and obligations of the Engineer and his assistants. Sub-Clause 3.1 deals with the role and duties of the Engineer. The Engineer is deemed to act for the Employer. The Engineer has no authority to relieve the Contractor of his duties, obligations or responsibilities under the Contract; nor can the Engineer amend the Contract. Under Sub-Clause 3.2 the Engineer can delegate authority to any assistants; however, the Engineer cannot delegate the responsibility to make Determinations. Under Sub-Clause 3.3 the Engineer may issue instructions or modified Drawings at any time, which are necessary for the execution of the Works. If the instruction constitutes a Variation, then it is dealt with under Clause 13 [Variations and Adjustments]. The Contractor is required to comply with any instruction given by the Engineer or delegated assistant. Sub-Clause 3.4 deals with the replacement of the Engineer. The Employer must not replace the Engineer with someone against whom the Contractor raises reasonable objection. Sub-Clause 3.5 deals with Determinations. When making a Determination the Engineer should consult with each of the Parties and, if agreement cannot be reached, make a fair determination in accordance with the Contract, taking due regard of all relevant circumstances. Both Parties are required to give effect to any Determination unless, or until, it is revised under Sub-Clause 20.1 [Claims, Disputes and Arbitration].
Clause 13 - Variations and Adjustments by George Rosenberg.
The main changes: Employer’s consent and neutrality The main changes in Clause 3 are the express provisions in Sub-Clause 3.2 [Engineer’s Duties and Authority] that the Engineer is not required to obtain the Employer’s consent before the Engineer exercises its authority under Sub-Clause 3.7 [Agreement or Determination], and that the Engineer must act “neutrally” when exercising its duties under Sub-Clause 3.7 [Agreement or Determination]. Dictionary definitions suggest that “neutrally” is similar in meaning to the words “independently” or “impartially” found in the FIDIC Red Book 4th edition and the FIDIC Yellow Book 3rd edition. However, the drafting committee believe that by using a different word it will avoid the difficulties raised in the interpretation of independently or impartially in the earlier editions. This remains to be seen. The intention is that “the Engineer treats both Parties even-handedly, in a fair minded and unbiased manner”.
In London last week, FIDIC launched its Second Editions of the Red, Yellow and Silver Books. They are big, weighing in at almost a kilo each. The general conditions cover 106 pages with more than 50,000 words, over 50% longer than the 1999 forms. Many improvements have been made, addressing issues that have emerged since 1999. Fans of Dispute Boards will be pleased to see that all three books now have standing boards with more emphasis on dispute avoidance; and that appointment of DB members and enforcement of their decisions have been made easier. Disputes and Arbitration are now dealt with in a separate chapter 21. Here are the most interesting changes to the Yellow Book.
Sub-Clause 17.6 of FIDIC’s Red, Yellow and Silver Book is an exemption clause and provides in the opening paragraph that: “Neither Party shall be liable to the other Party for loss of use of any Works, loss of profit, loss of any contract or for any indirect or consequential loss or damage which may be suffered by the other Party in connection with the Contract…” The phrase ‘indirect or consequential loss or damage’ has been examined by the English courts on numerous occasions. Historically the words ‘consequential loss’ were held to be synonymous with ‘indirect loss’. However, a recent case questions whether this will be correct in all cases.