Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago v Jusamco Pavers Ltd
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.
Earlier this year, the English High Court considered a heavily amended FIDIC Yellow Book 1999. Whilst the case is specific to the particular contractual amendments it is worth review. The case is J Murphy & Sons Ltd v Beckton Energy Ltd. It proceeded in court and on an expedited basis as a matter of some urgency because a bond was about to be called for non-payment of delay damages. The Contractor claimed the call would affect his commercial reputation, standing and creditworthiness, and may well need to be disclosed in future tenders. He had not paid the delay damages because there had been no agreement or determination of the entitlement to such by the Engineer under Sub-Clauses 2.5 and 3.5.
How important is it for an Employer to give a Sub-Clause 2.5 notice of a set-off or cross-claim under the FIDIC Red Book form of contract? Very, according to the Privy Council in NH International (Caribbean) Limited v National Insurance Property Development Company Limited . It found that: o Sub-Clause 2.5 applies to any claims the Employer wishes to make. o The Employer must make such claims promptly and in a particularised form. o Where the Employer fails to raise a claim as required, the back door of set-off or cross-claims is firmly shut. The case also serves as a warning to Employers who take a relaxed view towards their obligation under Sub-Clause 2.4 to provide reasonable evidence of the financial arrangements they have made and are maintaining to pay the Contract Price. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or important the Employer is (it may be a Government, company or individual with very substantial funds) detailed financial information must still be provided.