The study aims to investigate how modern methods of communication within the construction industry have brought forth a new cognitive process that participants in this industry should undertake when communicating.
To achieve the objectives of the study, a literature review was compiled on the legal status of electronic communication and what the impact of the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act, Act 25 of 2002, has had on electronic communication. A questionnaire was also distributed to quantity surveyors to ascertain the level of knowledge with regard to the application of the ECT Act.
The study found that participants are not familiar with the ECT Act and that it is highly advisable that parties to the agreement be made fully aware of how communications should be dealt with during the duration of the contract.
The study is restricted to the South African construction industry and construction contracts and a small target population of professional quantity surveyors practicing in the Gauteng Province. The results of the research will be taken as representative of the entire country.
In the modern era, notifications are increasingly being communicated electronically, e.g. by electronic mail, linked computer networks, the Internet and cellular phones with appropriate media capabilities. Participants in the built environment must know how to correctly, effectively and legally, deal with this information revolution.
Modern means of communication, including in particular electronic emailing, demand that users properly appreciate whether the chosen method of communication has a contractually binding and legally enforceable effect. Thus, in an ever-changing built environment, participants should not only dedicate more time to ensure that information conveyed does not have legal implications, except if so intended, but that the information conveyed is unambiguous, grammatically correct and formulated professionally. This article has value as it investigates how industry stakeholders perceive the legal status of electronic communication and recommends how it should be dealt with during the execution of the contract.
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