Aqua v. Benchmark: How Not to Settle a Dispute

By Steve Nichol and Matthew Friedlander

In its latest offering, “CLC COVID-19 Claims and Disputes in Construction” the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) predicts that disputes related to COVID-19 are set to rise in 2021. While the optimist may hope that parties will continue to or aim to work collaboratively in order to find workable commercial solutions to claims arising from the global pandemic, the realist knows that such disputes are inevitable. Continue reading “Aqua v. Benchmark: How Not to Settle a Dispute”

Wasn’t It Obvious? The Curious Case of ABC v. Network Rail

By Steve Nichol and Matthew Friedlander

At first glance, the Court of Appeal’s recent decision in ABC Electrification Ltd v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 1645 might look like the culmination of an exercise in legal hubris. This was, after all, a case focussed on the meaning of a single word in a contract; moreover, a word – “default” – that most of us in the legal profession might say has a well-established meaning.

And, after several hundred thousand pounds of legal fees no doubt well spent, the Court of Appeal told the world that the word “default” means exactly what we all thought it meant – a failure to fulfil an obligation. Continue reading “Wasn’t It Obvious? The Curious Case of ABC v. Network Rail”

COVID-19: Review of the UK Government’s Guidance on Responsible Contractual Behaviour

By Steve Nichol

On 7 May 2020 the UK Government published its “Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the COVID-19 emergency”.  Here are some of the key points arising and our analysis of the same.

It is not mandatory. The Guidance repeatedly stresses that the Government is merely strongly encouraging compliance with the Guidance, rather than suggesting that it is or should be mandatory.  However, as with previous policy announcements by the UK Government, it seems likely that public and local authorities, and indeed potentially companies such as Network Rail who are exercising delegated governmental authority, will be compelled to give greater regard and attention to the Guidance than the private sector. Continue reading “COVID-19: Review of the UK Government’s Guidance on Responsible Contractual Behaviour”

Is COVID-19 A Contractual “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” Card?

By Sue Laws

28.04.2020

COVID 19 is having a massive impact on supply chains and business continuity and, post lockdown, questions will be asked about who pays for this. The knee-jerk response of many businesses is that the pandemic is a unique, unforeseeable “Act of God” and that businesses which have furloughed staff or been forced to close during the lockdown or have had difficulties with their own supply chains or customers reducing purchase volumes, have no liabilities to or remedies against others for the consequent losses sustained. The reality is that on a case by case basis, businesses already adversely affected by this pandemic may find that contractual claims are being made against them or that they have a route to mitigate their losses by looking at their own contractual or statutory rights.

Key to the analysis which will be carried out is a bit of “jargon-busting” and debunking some commonly held views: Continue reading “Is COVID-19 A Contractual “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” Card?”