An issue that often arises in international arbitrations involving the FIDIC forms of contract is whether a claimant's failure to: (a) go through the dispute resolution provisions; or (b) comply with a time-bar clause gives rise to a question of admissibility or jurisdiction. Put another way, if a claimant has failed to issue a notice of claim within 28 days or failed to refer a dispute to a DAB, does the arbitral tribunal have jurisdiction to make an award on the merits or should the arbitral tribunal make an award stating that it lacks jurisdiction?
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.”
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.
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].
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.
Clause 19 deals with two distinct events: (1) Force Majeure; and (2) release from performance under the law. Force Majeure is often narrowly defined under the laws of many countries; however, within the FIDIC 1999 forms of contract it has a much broader meaning. The terminology used by FIDIC has therefore sometimes been criticized as being misleading.
Click through to read Corbett & Co.'s helpful commentary on FIDIC 1999 book Clause 15
The Engineer is deemed to act for the Employer and is essentially the Employer’s agent under the FIDIC Red Book 1999. He is not a wholly impartial intermediary, unless such a role is specified in the Particular Conditions, and there is no general obligation under the FIDIC Red Book 1999 for the Engineer to act independently or impartially. However, when he is required to make a determination under Sub-Clause 3.5, he is obliged to make it a fair determination and when he is obliged to issue an Interim Payment Certificate under Sub-Clause 14.6, or a Final Payment Certificate under Sub-Clause 14.13, he must fairly determine the amount due.
In this article Corbett & Co. Director Andrew Tweeddale addresses whether sub-clause 20.5 is a condition precedent to the commencement of an arbitration or whether it is an obligation, the breach of which will not affect the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal to resolve the dispute.
The 1999 FIDIC forms of contract contain a number of obligations and/or conditions precedent that require (a) a party to give notice of a claim (Sub-Clauses 20.1 and 2.5); (b) refer the claim to the Engineer (Sub-Clauses 20.1 and 3.5); and (c) submit the dispute to a Dispute Adjudication Board (“DAB”) (Sub-Clause 20.4). If either party gives a notice of dissatisfaction relating to the DAB’s Decision then Sub-Clause 20.5 provides that: “Where notice of dissatisfaction has been given under Sub-Clause 20.4 above, both Parties shall attempt to settle the dispute amicably before the commencement of arbitration. However, unless both Parties agree otherwise, arbitration may be commenced on or after the fifty-sixth day after the day on which notice of dissatisfaction was given, even if no attempt at amicable settlement has been made.”
On 27 May 2015, the 160-page reserved judgement of the Singapore Court of Appeal (“CA”) was handed down in Persero 2 - PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (Persero) TBK (“PGN”) v CRW Joint Operation (“CRW”). It will be regarded a triumph for contractors wishing to enforce DAB decisions. The CA ruled that the interim award issued by the arbitral tribunal ordering enforcement of the DAB’s decision should stand. Using the concept of an “inherent premise”, the CA made two important findings: 1) it was not necessary for the Contractor to refer the failure to pay (the secondary dispute) back to the DAB; and 2) it was not necessary for him to refer the merits (the primary dispute) in the same single arbitration as his application to enforce.
Read the full article here.
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.