At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of fuss was made about using force majeure as the basis for a construction claim. At the time we were quick to caution against the rapid use of this position. However, as the world begins to turn again and construction sites have had a knock on impact as a result, more and more claims are emerging. So, how can you claim for delay and disruption considering the impact of Covid-19 and the contractual information regarding pandemics?

Of course, it should go without saying that much will depend upon the specifics of your claim and circumstances. However, there are some basic principles that may help you make your decisions under the terms of your contract.

Pandemic is not a specified event

It’s worth checking your contract just in case, but nine times out of 10, pandemic isn’t listed as a specified event giving cause for an extension of time and/or
reimbursement.

A change to law or statutory requirements

It may be that at some point the instructions, guidelines and laws implemented by the government to deal with the pandemic will at some point be considered to constitute a change in statutory requirements affecting your work.

At the moment that isn’t the case so it’s best not to depend upon it, and to make sure that you keep communications channels open and all parties informed if anything happens that could cause a delay. Most contracts include a change in law provision for when laws are changed after the contract is in place. That could entitle you to additional time and money.

Postponement of works

With everything going on, lots of peoples’ positions have changed from where they were at the start of the year. If you have been instructed by the client to stop working for a period of time (outside the government’s lockdown instruction), it could be considered a relevant event, as a result of which you might be entitled to time and money.

Actions of the employer

As we said, lots of peoples’ position, thinking and planning has changed since the start of Covid-19, so you may find yourself in a position where your employer has not been able to meet their obligations, which has then impacted your ability to do your work (for example, approve, certify, inspect, monitor or supervise work). This could be considered reasonable cause for delayed works by preventing you from being able to complete your own tasks against the pre-agreed time and cost terms.

Issuing notices

When, how and why you issue a claims notice can have a big impact on the outcome. Notices do need to be issued in a timely manner. However, they also need to be issued for the right reasons otherwise you could end up in a worse position than the one you started with.

The key is to be fully informed about all the potential outcomes of the delay and the claim. Keep those involved updated, keep communication lines open, and if we’re honest, above all else, seek professional help. It’s much better to resolve a claim before it becomes a full scale argument, and with a professional able to supply the voice of reason, you have a much better chance of finding a resolution early.

Speak to Tungsten Capital for advice and support from a professional claims consultant.