REUTERS | Jose Miguel Gomez

Are you too tired to get “contractural”?

A less than serious post to kick off this blog:

A Google engineer has developed a way to avoid random emailing late at night when you’re most likely to be “tired”. Jon Perlow’s new Mail Goggles application, built into Google’s GMail service, forces the user to answer basic maths questions in 60 seconds before a message can be sent on its way.

Should this be applied to correspondence between warring parties when construction projects get into dispute?  My view is definitely not because the odd typo and the use of “flowery language” brightens up what could otherwise be a dull trawl through the correspondence, when a dispute has to be resolved by formal process.

Here are some real examples which I have collected over the years:

  • Expert witness to solicitor accepting that mistakes have been made in a court bundle:

“We apologise for any incontinence caused”

  • Architect to Contractor:

“It was not the intention of our letter dated 19th June to provide Mr Brown with an opportunity to display such erudite wit on contractural matters … A simple factual response to each of my queries will assist in resolving your entitlement to an extension of time far more than an imbroglio of innuendo.”

  • Formal Pleading in an Arbitration:

“The Employer failed to respond timorously in accordance with the Contract to design queries, site technical guides etc”

  • Final Account Item:

“Site Toilet Emptying – Not Used”

  • Formal Pleading in the TCC:

“To define ‘the site’ by reference to the completed project … is akin to [giving] one’s address as a large three bedroom house with a lovely garden and fishpond.”

  • Letter from law firm explaining delay in providing documents:

“The delay resulted from events beyond our control including, but not limited to, the Exodus in or about 1300 [BC], the events at Calvary in or about 35 [AD] and a profusion of letters by the parties immediately prior to the anniversaries of those events.”

  • Email “out of office” reply:

“I will now be out of the office … and will not return until 31/12/3000.”

  • Letter from law firm accused of sending vitriolic correspondence:

“We are sorry that you should consider any of our letters have been vitriolic … we like to think you meant our letters were of sparkling clarity as the use of the word “vitreoloic” would suggest. “

(I’m not sure that there is such a word!)

  • Response to request for further and better particulars (as they used to be called) asking how a figure had been calculated:

“The figure was calculated on a calculator.”

  • Cost claim for ancillary works

“The [contractors] are liable for the cost of providing … massive and sillier works.”

  • Extract of letter written to local authority (the full letter is erudite but unprintable):

The … Committee is … a rubberstamping, picture dressing, talking shop sham offering false reassurances for [the] ignorant …  In reality it’s a powerless bunch of sycophantic, semantic windbags and thus a worthless waste of space.

Any similar experiences gratefully received…

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