how to write a successful claim

When sitting down to write a claim, your purpose is quite simple. You want to convince someone that you are entitled to be compensated, in either time or money, for the event leading to the claim. The obligation is on you here to prove that your claim is a just one and the standard of proof is based upon the ‘balance of probabilities‘.

If your claim does not meet these requirements there is a very good chance that it will fail. And it will fail because you have not demonstrated your case.

So how you you write a successful claim? We thought we would offer a few tips, using an example of some recent work we did.

On behalf of the Employer, we recently produced an assessment for a Contractor’s claim for an extension of time. The claim arose from the late nomination for the supply of the interior lighting fixtures. These were included as a provisional sum on the Contract. This claim is a very good example of a poorly expressed claim. I will explain why by way of some examples.

The Narrative

The claim narrative says the same thing in several different ways in different parts of the narrative. This is just tedious for the reader and shows that the Contractor doesn’t have the skills to write a successful claim. His lack of skill here doesn’t elicit much sympathy from me. So how do you avoid this when writing your claims? Make sure that you:

  • make your point well,
  • make it clearly and
  • make it once.

The narrative does quite a good job of ‘telling the ‘story’ and is well substantiated by the inclusion of exhibits from the project records. But it relies only on facts demonstrated by quotations and extracts from the records. It offers no explanations or conclusions as to what the bare facts mean. This leaves me to draw my own conclusions. This is dangerous because my conclusions may not be the same as the Contractor’s.


At a bare minimum the records should establish the facts. However, my advice is to offer additional explanations, summaries and conclusions to tell the reviewer exactly what he or she should be thinking at each stage of the narrative.

Going back to our example, the Contractor uses several clauses from the Contract to demonstrate entitlement but only two clauses are actually relevant. Again, providing that he has at least relied on the actual clauses that do provide entitlement, this falls into the annoying rather than dangerous category. My advice is:

  • If it is not relevant then don’t include it.

Delay Analysis

The delay analysis programme included with the claim served to demonstrate the effect of the late nomination on the Time for Completion. Yet it was clear to me – as a non-expert – that it was obviously wrong. The narrative offered no information as to the logic behind it and how it had been created. Presumably, the Contractor thought that it made sense or he would not have submitted it. But without the benefit of some form of explanation, I certainly could not see how it could work and more importantly, it is not my job as the respondent to go looking for evidence to support the claimant. My advice here is:

  • Ensure that any supporting document such as calculations, programmes, etc. are explained clearly in the narrative.

Final Thoughts

Based on experience, I had a pretty strong gut feeling that the Contractor was entitled to some additional time. However, it is certainly not my job as a respondent to prove his case for him. My conclusion therefore was that yes, the nomination was late. Furthermore, in such circumstances the Contractor is entitled to an extension of time if the late nomination delayed the Time for Completion. However, as the Contractor had not adequately proven that the delay actually did affect the Time for Completion, my recommendation was that no extension of time should be awarded, because the claimant had not proven his case.

So the moral of this tale? Make sure that your claims are presented in such a way that they will prove your case on the ‘balance of probabilities’.

Hewitt Decipher Partnership’s expert consultants have been preparing and responding to claims for many years. Can we help you? Get in touch via our contact page; we would be happy to discuss any support that you may need.