Many a construction dispute turns on defects. A significant subset of those turn on whether the existence of defects prevents practical completion from taking place. It’s not surprising that these situations are contentious: contractors are keen that practical completion is certified so as to avoid or limit their liability for liquidated damages, trigger the return of retention monies and, often, to bring about an assessment of sums they consider due under the final account. Employers may be understandably reluctant to take possession of a property which they consider defective and by resisting practical completion an employer can put pressure on a contractor by withholding sums that would otherwise become due.
Practical completion is therefore an important concept in construction contracts, although one that is often not precisely defined, which can cause uncertainty and hinder the operation of the contract. Continue reading