things contractors get wrong when it comes to claims

We have just been appointed by a contractor to prepare an extension of time claim. The contractor exceeded the completion date 3 months ago. And although the employer has caused many delays, the contractor has not submitted any claims for extensions of time yet. Unfortunately, we see this approach by contractors far more than we would like. It often results in a ton of work for consultants like us, but it also has huge disadvantages for the contractor.

Why this is not good practice

We now have to deal with an extension of time claim for 17 employer-caused delay events. This will be a very time consuming and complicated process. Whilst we work to prepare the claim and then give the Engineer time to review it, delay penalties will continue to be deducted from the contractor.

From both a preparation and a review point of view, 17 separate small claims are easier and quicker to review than one large claim for 17 delay events. It would have been much better to submit the claims as and when each delay occurred.

For the same reason, we may not have resources readily available to complete such a large task, so another consultant may need to come on board which leads to further costs.

When presented with a claim for 17 delay events, the engineer will need a long time to review the claim. This will then delay the issue of a response or determination and delay bringing the matter to a close.

If one or two of the heads of claim are not agreed by the engineer, then any entitlement forthcoming for the others will be held up until the contentious issues are resolved.

Some of the delay events happened 10 months ago. Over time, memory grows hazy. Although records should be available to substantiate the facts, claims are best dealt with contemporaneously when memories are clearer.

Had the contractor dealt with the claim early in the contract period, the engineer would receive the message that the contractor is prepared to pursue their entitlement under the contract. In turn, this may have encouraged a more reasonable determination than may otherwise result.

Don’t Wait and See

The wait-and-see philosophy of leaving claims until the end of the project almost never works. At this time, the engineer and employer have a completed project. There is little incentive to resolve matters in the contractor’s favour. Plus, it is more than possible that when the project is completed, the person responsible for claims from the engineer’s side may have been moved to a new project. They may be less than enthusiastic about dealing with old issues.

The lesson here is to submit separate claims for each event as soon as possible after the event occurs.

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.