Last edited 04 Nov 2013

Relevant events v relevant matters

Relevant events and relevant matters are terms used in some construction contracts, such as JCT contracts. They are sometimes confused, but the differences are very important.

A relevant event is an event that causes a delay to the completion date, which is caused by the client, or a neutral event not caused by either party. The contract should set out what constitutes a relevant event. Relevant events entitle the contractor to claim an extension of time; that is for the completion date to be moved.

Relevant events might include:

A relevant event does not necessarily entitle the contractor to claim loss and expense. To claim loss and expense, a relevant matter must have occurred.

A relevant matter is a matter for which the client is responsible that materially effects the progress of the works. This enables the contractor to claim direct loss and / or expense that has been incurred. Relevant matters might include:

  • Failure to give the contractor possession of the site.
  • Failure to give the contractor access to and from the site.
  • Delays in receiving instructions.
  • Opening up works or testing works that then prove to have been carried out in accordance with the contract.
  • Discrepancies in the contract documents.
  • Disruption caused by works being carried out by the client.
  • Failure by the client to supply goods or materials.
  • Instructions relating to variations and expenditure of provisional sums.
  • Inaccurate forecasting of works described by approximate quantities.
  • Issues relating to CDM.

A relevant matter need not necessarily result in a delay to the completion date, and so may not always entitle the contractor to an extension of time.

If delays are not caused by the client and are not neutral events, but are caused by the contractor, and this results in a failure to achieve practical completion by the completion date set out in the contract, the contractor may be liable to pay liquidated damages to the client.

NEC contracts deal with these issues under the single heading ‘compensation events’. They do not treat compensation events as an allocation of blame, but rather an allocation of risk. Any risk that is not specifically identified as being attributed to the client is borne by the contractor.

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