Subcontractors’ liability for project delay

David Greenwood (School of the Built Environment, Northumbria University, Ellison Place, Newcastle‐upon‐Tyne)
Keith Hogg (School of the Built Environment, Northumbria University, Ellison Place, Newcastle‐upon‐Tyne)
Stanley Kan (School of the Built Environment, Northumbria University, Ellison Place, Newcastle‐upon‐Tyne)

Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction

ISSN: 1366-4387

Publication date: 1 August 2005

Abstract

The normal way of dealing with damages for delay in a construction contract is to use a Liquidated and Ascertained Damages clause. Such clauses specify a preset sum to be due to the client for every day, week or month by which the contractor fails to meet the works completion date. However, the greater part of the value of construction work is actually carried out by subcontractors, and there is little or no published evidence as to how their contractual responsibilities for delays are determined and pursued. Theoretically, there are a number of possibilities (none of which is entirely satisfactory to both parties) and the logic and implications of each is discussed. A survey was conducted to discover the methods that are actually used, their incidence, and whether it was possible to relate the different approaches to the attributes of particular subcontractors or to specific situations. The most commonly encountered approach was for subcontract damages to be based upon a proportion of those set under the main contract. Interestingly, this is neither the approach incorporated within industry‐standard subcontract conditions, nor is it the one preferred by subcontractors. Furthermore, this method places considerable risks on the main contractor due to the possibilities of under‐recovery and the creation of secondary risks. This method, indeed all the methods that were encountered, seems to be the result of a rather uneasy compromise between the parties, the outcome of which may be related to their relative bargaining power.

Keywords

Citation

Greenwood, D., Hogg, K. and Kan, S. (2005), "Subcontractors’ liability for project delay", Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 107-114. https://doi.org/10.1108/13664380580001068

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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