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.
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.
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.
FIDIC’s 2017 editions introduced a new Claims management system in clause 20 that channels Claims through two very different procedures. One of them is very simple and involves almost no risk whereas the other will require investment of significant project resources, will take the parties a considerable amount of time to resolve and carries fatal consequences if not followed properly. It has therefore become a priority for anyone handling this Claims management system to understand how clause 20.1 sorts the different types of Claims and to recognise that the classification scheme is not as straightforward as the wording of the Contract suggests, as explored in this article.
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.
Corbett & Co. has published its selection of the best bits of the FIDIC 2017 2nd Editions adapted for use with the 1999 forms. With many people put off by the 50,000+ words of the new editions, the FIDIC 1999 Upgrade will permit users to benefit from FIDIC’s new ideas and improvements.
The main changes in Clause 15 are the new grounds for termination: Non-compliance with a final and binding Engineer’s Determination (Sub-Clause 15.2.1(a)(ii)) and a binding or final and binding DAAB decision (Sub-Clause 15.2.1(a)(iii)) to the extent that such failure constitutes a “material breach” of the Employer’s obligations under the Contract. Maxing out the Delay Damages (Sub-Clause 15.2.1(c)). There is no requirement for the Delay Damages to have been actually deducted. It is not clear what the position would be if the Contractor claims an EOT and it is granted by the DAAB or arbitrator after termination so that the Delay Damages are reduced below the cap. Would the termination then be unlawful?
Clause 14 - Contract Price and Payment by George Rosenberg.
Clause 4 sets out various obligations which fall on the Contractor under the Contract and which cannot easily be classified elsewhere. The obligations under Clause 4 are of a wide range covering 24 different topics. Sub-Clause 4.1 sets out the Contractor’s general obligation to carry out his duties in accordance with the contract. Clause 4 of the FIDIC Red Book 1999 amalgamates various Contractor obligations under one provision. However this Clause 4 is not exclusive as there are also other Contractor obligations scattered throughout the Contract. Other significant general obligations which could equally have been included in Clause 4 (and which should be read in conjunction with this Clause 4) are as follows: • Sub-Clause 1.3 [Communications] • Sub-Clause 1.7 [Assignment] • Sub-Clause 1.8 [Care and Supply of Documents] • Sub-Clause 1.9 [Delayed Drawings or Instructions] • Sub-Clause 1.10 [Employer’s Use of Contractor’s Documents] • Sub-Clause 1.12 [Confidential Details] • Sub-Clause 1.13 [Compliance with Laws] • Clause 6 [Staff and Labour] • Clause 7 [Plant, Materials and Workmanship] • Sub-Clause 8.2 [Time for Completion] • Sub-Clause 8.3 [Programme]
Corbett & Co. has devised a helpful commentary on FIDIC 1999 books Clause 2. Clause 2 sets out certain obligations which are imposed on the Employer; however, this is by no means all the Employer’s obligations. The obligation to pay the Contractor, for example, is found in Sub-Clause 14.7 and the obligation to Take-Over the Works is found at Sub-Clause 10.1. The first obligation imposed on the Employer under this Clause is to give to the Contractor a right of access. Sub-Clause 2.1 needs to be read alongside Sub-Clauses 2.3 and 4.6, which make it clear that possession of the Site need not be exclusive. Sub-Clause 2.2 imposes on the Employer an obligation to assist the Contractor when requested to obtain permits, licences or approvals required by the laws of the Country. The obligation to reasonably assist is not an absolute obligation and generally will not mean the Employer will have to expend money on fulfilling the obligation. Sub-Clause 2.3 imposes on the Employer an obligation similar to that imposed on the Contractor under Sub-Clause 4.6. The Employer is responsible for any failure by its personnel to co-operate with the Contractor or to comply with safety regulations, take care of persons on Site, make sure the Site is reasonably free from unnecessary obstructions, and protect the environment. Sub-Clause 2.4 imposes on the Employer an obligation to show that financial arrangements have been made and are in place to enable it to pay the Contract Price. Sub-Clause 2.5 deals with the Employer’s Claims and requires that the Employer give notice and particulars of its claim before the Engineer makes a Determination under Sub-Clause 3.5. The Employer cannot set-off any claims it may have against the Contractor unless it complies with this Sub-Clause.
Clause 1 sets out many of the boilerplate clauses within the Contract and provides a number of definitions which are used thereafter. The Clause has been substantially changed from the Red Book 4th edn with a raft of new clauses added. Sub-Clause 1.3 deals with communications and states that approvals, certificates, consents and determinations shall not be unreasonable withheld or delayed. The assignment provisions in Sub-Clause 1.7 have now changed so that restriction on assignment applies to both the Contractor and Employer. Delayed Drawings and Instructions is dealt with at Sub-Clause 1.9. This was previously dealt with at Clause 6.4 of the Red Book 4th edn and it is unclear why such an important provision has now been rolled up in the General Provisions clause.
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There is a substantial difference between the payment provisions of the FIDIC 1999 Red and Yellow Books compared with the Silver Book. This article explores how a court in Queensland (Australia) has dealt with the Silver Book’s provision. Contractors have good cause to be wary.
This article discusses whether the recently issued FIDIC Guidance Memorandum really does provide the answer to the vexed question of enforcement of binding, but not yet final DAB decisions. On 1 April 2013 the FIDIC Contracts Committee issued a Guidance Memorandum to users which is intended to be used with the Conditions of Contract for Construction (the ‘Red Book’), the Conditions of Contract for Plant and Design-Build (the ‘Yellow Book’), and the Conditions of Contract for EPC/Turnkey Projects (the ‘Silver Book’). The FIDIC Contracts Committee have stated that compliance with the guidance is highly recommended when using the 1999 FIDIC Red, Yellow or Silver Books. This article considers briefly whether the Guidance Memorandum is either necessary or useful.