Last edited 07 Oct 2020

Culpable delay in construction contracts

Construction contracts generally allow the construction period to be extended where there is a delay that is not the contractor's fault. This is described as an extension of time (EOT). The contractor may (but is not necessarily) also be entitled to claim for loss and expense associated with the delay.

Culpable delay (sometimes referred to as 'contractor delay') on the other hand is a delay that is entirely the fault of the contractor. Where the contractor is culpable for a delay, they have no entitlement to an extension of time or loss and expense.

Where there is a culpable delay, the period of time after the contractual date for completion has passed is referred to as the period of contractor culpable delay, and during this period, the contractor will be liable to pay liquidated and ascertained damages (LAD's) to the client.

Concurrent delay refers to the complex situation where more than one event occurs at the same time, but where not all of those events enable the contractor to claim an extension of time. For more information, see Concurrent delay.

In Carillion Construction Ltd. v Woods Bagot Europe Ltd. and others [2016], the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) held that a subcontractor who had caused a delay, was also entitled to an extension of time and that this should run contiguously from the contractual completion date. This meant that the subcontractor’s period of culpable delay was extinguished, and they were no longer liable for their own delay.

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