Kim Hong-Ji
REUTERS | Kim Hong-Ji

What have the Romans ever done for us? comes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian and was the inspiration for this post:

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

As I learnt from reading Akenhead J’s judgment in Savoye v Spicers, the Romans also gave us the words “construction” (the origin being the Latin verb “construere”, which broadly means “putting together”) and “structure” (the origin being the Latin verb “struere”, which apparently means something that has been placed, built, arranged or prepared).

Why, I hear you ask, would Akenhead J be considering such terms? Well, Savoye v Spicers is an adjudication enforcement case that turned on the question of whether a contract for the installation of an industrial conveyor belt system in a factory was a “construction contract” for the purposes of section 104 of the Construction Act 1996. It all turned on the meaning of “construction operations” (in section 105).

Let me explain. Continue reading

Sean Yong
REUTERS | Sean Yong

Adjudicators’ decisions are often attacked in enforcement proceedings, with the party resisting enforcement arguing that the adjudicator lacked jurisdiction or breached the rules of natural justice (or both). If those arguments are successful, not only is the adjudicator’s decision unenforceable but, following PC Harrington v Systech, the adjudicator may not be entitled to be paid either. At the time of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, I said that one of the lessons for adjudicators must surely be to take care when dealing with jurisdictional issues. (I also said a fair few other things too!)

It has been a while but, at the end of last term, the issue was before the courts again, this time in Gary Kitt and EC Harris LLP v The Laundry Building Ltd and Etcetera Construction Services Ltd (which, just like PC Harrington v Systech, was also before Akenhead J).   Continue reading

Jason Lee
REUTERS | Jason Lee

Liability for variations

This is the first of a series of bi-monthly blog posts on the subject of variations.

This post deals with a subject that should be considered the logical starting point for any discussion about extras: the scope of works. After all, in order to assess whether something is a variation, it is first necessary to determine what the contract requires the contractor to build. Continue reading

Ina Fassbender
REUTERS | Ina Fassbender

My 2015 wish list

It’s that time of year again when we all start looking forward and wondering what the next 12 months will hold.

For the last few years, my looking forward piece seems to have focused on West Ham‘s adventures in the Premier League. At the start of last year, I was pleased to see they had secured the lease of the Olympic stadium and hoped they wouldn’t get relegated. As we start 2015, not only has big Sam managed to keep them in the top flight, but we are pressing for a place in Europe. It remains to be seen whether he can get us there, but at least it means relegation is but a distant thought this season (fingers crossed). Continue reading

Sharif Karim
REUTERS | Sharif Karim

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility:

“Lady Middleton… exerted herself to ask Mr Palmer if there was any news in the paper. ‘No, none at all,’ he replied, and read on.”

It is often said that today’s news is tomorrow’s fish ‘n’ chip paper (even if only metaphorically, since they use white paper nowadays!). Whether that can ever be said about court judgments is debatable but, in the last two months, we have seen two landmark adjudication enforcement decisions.

Last month it was all about Eurocom v Siemensthis month was all about ISG v Seevic. If you missed Edwards-Stuart J’s judgment, we now know that failing to serve a pay less notice means the employer has agreed the value of the works the contractor is claiming for on an interim basis. If an adjudicator is asked to confirm that, a second adjudicator cannot then value that interim claim. Jonathan Cope explained some of the practical implications. Continue reading

Stephen Hird
REUTERS | Stephen Hird

Abraham Lincoln:

“Let me not be understood as saying that there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed.”

The second half of 2014 has seen a number of important decisions affecting construction and engineering practitioners.  Continue reading