- May 23, 2018
Show me the way (in contract drafting)
I recently looked at some bespoke drafting that, as Eric Morecombe might have put it, had all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order. To avoid a fracas, I suggested that using a familiar standard form might be a better starting point and would save quite a bit of time. My idea … Continue reading Show me the way (in contract drafting) →
- January 17, 2018
Retention of title revisited
We all have our favourite points when it comes to contract drafting. Some people are busy thinking up solutions to the conundrum of concurrent causes of delay. Others focus on how reasonable skill and care limitations can survive in complex contracts. Some purchasers of construction services have a policy of not paying out more than … Continue reading Retention of title revisited →
- October 2, 2017
Who knows where the time goes?
Einstein famously said that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. The nature of time is not an easy concept to grapple with and I had a similar (albeit not quite so ethereal) experience preparing a recent seminar on the practical effect of the decision in Carillion Construction v … Continue reading Who knows where the time goes? →
- January 30, 2017
Can ethical policies be distinctive?
A barrister friend told me that, on his first day, he was told by his Head of Chambers that he should always behave like a gentleman – and that was all he needed to know about business ethics. That was a while ago and now most organisations have lengthy ethical policies with accompanying training for … Continue reading Can ethical policies be distinctive? →
- June 16, 2016
The Referendum, law, medicine and science
Over the past month or so there has been much accusation, from both sides of the Referendum debate, that the other side is making misleading or untrue statements. I went through a thought process about this which started with me thinking, rather smugly, that law isn’t like politics.
- May 16, 2016
Reflections on agile working
I read somewhere that fifty-somethings are the most flexible workers – and not just in the legal profession. My fifty-something postman is a retired Royal Marine and the sixty-something Tesco delivery man recently retired from a desk-bound office job. We are now told that “agile is the new flexible” and people write about it as … Continue reading Reflections on agile working →
- April 29, 2014
Not solving every problem
They say that the UK has weather instead of a climate. Here in Panama City, there is definitely a climate. The temperature is in the mid-thirties (Celsius) every day regardless of the season. For eight months it is rainy, very rainy, with frequent thunderstorms. The record was set in 2002 when 562 mm of rain … Continue reading Not solving every problem →
- February 24, 2014
Is your job to warn or to prevent?
Spam, scam and getting in a jam… I recently received an email offering me what looked like a tasty piece of work, but a longer look at the email made me realise that it was a scam.
- January 27, 2014
LDs, exclusive remedies and an injunction
It goes without saying that one of the most important advantages of the “rule of law” for commercial parties is the right to enforce contractual obligations. Coupled with this is a need for contractual certainty. The law is there to enforce rights, particularly where those rights have been agreed upon. It provides a system for … Continue reading LDs, exclusive remedies and an injunction →
- September 17, 2012
How to start a project
There is nothing more exciting for a lawyer than the first meeting on a new project. Cynics would say that it’s all “downhill” from that point on, or “uphill” if you prefer the (more topical) cycling metaphor. But let’s stick with the positive. The enjoyment is twofold: The pleasure of winning or being entrusted with … Continue reading How to start a project →
- July 3, 2012
Are you paying a debt, or are you just paying?
I’m not really into labels (designer or otherwise). For example, I tell people that the label “letter of intent” is potentially misleading. Better to call it a “letter”, so that you are more likely to read it with an open mind, and work out what it actually says. I have been looking at the JCT Design … Continue reading Are you paying a debt, or are you just paying? →
- January 9, 2012
Fitness for purpose: the case against
There has been a great deal of debate about fitness for purpose v reasonable skill and care in these columns. This is a look at the topic from a slightly different point of view.
- October 17, 2011
Primary obligor: what is it, and would you like to be one?
One of my clients recently reorganised into a number of trading companies plus a holding company. They did not novate any existing contracts but wanted new contracts to be entered into by the appropriate trading company. The trading companies were brand new and therefore had no credit history. Some of the customers (and sub-contractors) were … Continue reading Primary obligor: what is it, and would you like to be one? →
- July 19, 2011
What does hold harmless mean? What is an indemnity anyway?
I was talking to a Dutch lawyer at a conference the other day. He asked me what “hold harmless” meant and whether it was necessary to use it when drafting an indemnity under English Law. The conversation went on to discuss whether giving an indemnity was better than an ordinary contractual obligation (or worse – depending … Continue reading What does hold harmless mean? What is an indemnity anyway? →
- June 22, 2011
Government Construction Strategy: something new or same old same old?
Last week I went to a presentation at the Centre for Construction Innovation to hear Paul Meigh talk about the Government Construction Strategy. Paul is the deputy director for construction and efficiency reform in the Cabinet Office and introduced himself as the “the officer responsible for publication of the paper”. (The Chief Construction Adviser, Paul … Continue reading Government Construction Strategy: something new or same old same old? →
- May 17, 2011
On demand bonds: do we feel fine?
R.E.M. felt fine, even though it was the end of the world as they knew it. Leaving aside the raft of current problems facing the planet, the economy and our industry… …and restricting our event horizon to the bubble that we construction lawyers inhabit, do we feel fine when we hear that the sanctity, purity … Continue reading On demand bonds: do we feel fine? →
- March 30, 2011
Civil litigation reform after Jackson; the government has its say
I am acting for a client who is thinking about bringing a claim under a CFA supported by ATE insurance. The company has never been involved in litigation before, except for small debt actions. Apart from trying to understand the litigation process, the whole system of recoverability of premiums and success fees is quite a lot … Continue reading Civil litigation reform after Jackson; the government has its say →
- March 7, 2011
Working abroad: political uncertainty and country risk
There is extensive experience within the UK construction and engineering industries (and the advisers to those industries) of working in many different parts of the world. However, there is now a need (as opposed to a willingness) to work abroad because of the reduced workload in the UK. Less experienced companies will seek to work … Continue reading Working abroad: political uncertainty and country risk →
- February 9, 2011
Don’t be haunted by money laundering rules
Many years ago (longer than I care to admit) I went on my first foreign business trip. I had done a small piece of work for a UK subsidiary of a European company. I didn’t know them very well, but was pleasantly surprised when their holding company asked me to go to a meeting in … Continue reading Don’t be haunted by money laundering rules →
- January 18, 2011
What does the future hold for contract interpretation?
I’m reading a futurology book at the moment. The author says that the way to predict the future is to understand the causes of events by reference to underlying influences. He says that politicians (and other powerful people) do not control the world as much as we think. Many of the decisions that they make … Continue reading What does the future hold for contract interpretation? →
- November 16, 2010
City Inn and delay analysis: how to get a result
We learnt from Fun Boy 3 and Bananarama that “it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it… and that’s what gets results”. But how, you might wonder, does that help us enter the arcane world of delay analysis? I went to a seminar last week on City Inn v Shepherd and learnt much … Continue reading City Inn and delay analysis: how to get a result →
- October 18, 2010
How to settle a dispute
Another Saturday afternoon in Panama (I’ll be permanently back in the UK at the end of October), and I am sitting on the balcony again with the ubiquitous milky coffee. But instead of staring out into the Pacific and letting my mind wander I’ve been reading Tony Blair’s book. Whether or not you are a … Continue reading How to settle a dispute →
- September 7, 2010
The ICE contract: still a contract of choice?
It’s a cloudy, warm and humid Saturday afternoon here in Panama City and I’ve been sitting on the balcony of my apartment gazing out into the Pacific Ocean and drinking a cup of milky coffee. There are about thirty ships in Panama Bay waiting to transit the canal, the Pacific entrance to which is about … Continue reading The ICE contract: still a contract of choice? →
- August 23, 2010
Can the adjudicator be in repudiatory breach of contract?
If there is a contract between the adjudicator and the parties (and case-law suggests that there is), can you apply all the usual rules of contract, including repudiation, to it? Could this give an aggrieved party a tactical advantage?
- August 2, 2010
The future: nuclear or bust?
Energy and water security are thought by many to be the biggest challenges facing the world. Climate change, although even bigger, is a little further away. The problem is how to fix the first two, now, without making the third one even worse.
- July 13, 2010
Building schools in the future: bid costs and cancelled projects
The government has announced that many Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects have been cancelled. The work still needs to be done. It’s just that Building Schools for the Future has, for many, become “building schools in the future”.
- June 29, 2010
Exceeding the speed limit: time in adjudication
In September last year, under the heading unreasonable skill and care, I looked at the dilemma facing professional people who need to strike a balance between giving advice in the timescale required and taking long enough to be as confident as they can be that the advice is correct.
- December 9, 2009
No abuse please
I read an interesting article in the Law Society Gazette by Masood Ahmed about enforcing judgments.
- November 23, 2009
Does the law allow suppression of evidence?
I saw a good film recently called The Bank Job, which is loosely based on the 1971 Baker Street Robbery. The plan is to break into safety deposit boxes, which the robbers think will contain large amounts of cash and valuables. I won’t give the story away, but the Security Service, MI5, gets involved because … Continue reading Does the law allow suppression of evidence? →
- November 10, 2009
Defects and exclusive remedies clauses
Many people worry about making errors because they think are not clever enough to realise that what they are doing is wrong or incorrect. In fact, the majority of errors are simple ones.