Up until the spring of 2020, a FIDIC 1999 Sub-Clause 13.7 [Adjustments for Changes in Legislation] claim was just one of many issues to be resolved, for example, in a delay and disruption claim or a Cost claim. However, the focus it receives in the context of Covid-19 is drastically different. Many in the industry are using the changes in legislation provision to seek financial compensation in a situation that would otherwise potentially only attract an extension of time. Awarding Cost for Covid-19 events regardless of the circumstances may seem to some (Contractors mostly, though there are Employers and Engineers who agree) like the appropriate thing to do, but whether it is correct according to the Contract is a different question.
A contract may require a party giving notice of a claim to specify the contractual or legal basis of that claim in the notice (or the supporting particulars). What if that party states a contractual or legal basis for the claim but later (perhaps with the benefit of additional information or because of advice from its lawyers) changes its mind or wants to include further contractual or legal bases? This was considered by the Hong Kong Court of Appeal in Maeda Corporation and China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited v Bauer Hong Kong Limited  HKCA 830. It found that a subcontractor could not change the contractual basis for its claim once the time period for providing such notice had expired. What, if any, impact will this decision have on the FIDIC forms of contract?
El efecto del coronavirus en la construcción es amplio y desconocido, en particular, en cómo evaluar el tiempo y el dinero perdido. Por fortuna, los contratos FIDIC proveen varias opciones a las Partes para manejar riesgos y proteger derechos. Este artículo analiza cómo se trataría la pandemia del Covid-19 bajo el Contrato de Construcción de Obras FIDIC 2010 armonizado por el Banco Mundial en español.
Covid-19 has had huge consequences around the world and unfortunately
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.
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 8 - Commencement Delays and Suspension by Taner Dedezade.
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.
Contractors are sometimes concerned about the politics of their FIDIC 1999 Sub-Clause 20.1 notices. Some Contractors may consider that serving Sub-Clause 20.1 notices may send the wrong message, particularly in the honeymoon period when the works have just begun. However, the consequences of failing to serve a timely claim notice are so dire that doubtless the issue is regularly on every Contractor’s mind. The case of Obrascon Huarte Lain SA v Her Majesty's Attorney General for Gibraltar1 in the Technology and Construction Court of England and Wales provided some welcomed relief to many Contractors worldwide who may now attempt to rely on its finding on the timing of claim notices when postponing service of these crucial notices.
Sub-Clause 13.1 deals with the right of the Engineer to vary the Contract. This right can be exercised at any time up to the issue of the Taking-Over Certificate. Sub-Clause 13.2 deals with value engineering and permits the Contractor to propose a change which will benefit the Employer. The proposal is prepared at the cost of the Contractor, who designs the change. Sub-Clause 13.3 deals with the procedure prior to the Engineer instructing a variation. The Engineer may request a proposal from the Contractor. However, while the Contractor is preparing the proposal it must proceed with the works. Sub-Clause 13.4 deals with payment in applicable currencies. Sub-Clause 13.5 deals with Provisional Sums and ought to be read with Sub-Clause 18.104.22.168 which defines Provisional Sum as follows:- “a sum (if any) which is specified in the Contract as a provisional sum, for the execution of any part of the Works or for the supply of Plant, Materials or services under Sub-Clause 13.5 [Provisional Sums].” The Provisional Sum can only be used where there is an Engineer’s instruction and the Contractor receives payment for only the work done to which the Provisional Sum relates. Sub-Clause 13.6 deals with daywork. This is where work of a minor or incidental nature is to be carried out. The work is then valued in accordance with the Daywork Schedule in the Contract or if there is no Daywork Schedule then the alternative method of payment as prescribed in the Contract. Sub-Clause 13.7 deals with the Cost arising from changes in the Laws of the Country which affect the Contractor in performance of his obligations under the Contract. Where the Contractor suffers delay or additional Cost then it must give notice under Sub-Clause 20.1 of the Contract. Sub-Clause 13.8 deals with adjustments for changes in cost. This Sub-Clause only applies where the “table of adjustment data” included in the Appendix to Tender has been completed. If the Sub-Clause does apply then the amounts payable to the Contractor for rises and fall in the cost of the Works are adjusted by a formula.
Clause 10 deals with the Taking-Over of the Works, Sections, or parts of the Works. Sub-Clause 10.1 deals with the Taking-Over of the Works and Sections. Taking-Over by the Employer happens when the Works (a) pass the Tests on Completion; (b) are substantially complete; (c) any contractual requirements relating to Taking-Over have been met; and (d) the Taking-Over Certificate has been issued or is deemed to have been issued. Sub-Clauses 10.2 and 10.3 deal with deemed Taking-Over where the Employer uses part of the Works or interferes with the Tests on Completion for more than 14 days. The failure to issue a Taking-Over Certificate by the Engineer, where the Employer has taken into commercial use the Works, will amount to a breach of contract.
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.