Relevant events v relevant matters
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:
- Exceptionally adverse weather.
- Civil commotion or terrorism.
- Failure to provide information.
- Delay on the part of a nominated sub-contractor.
- Statutory undertaker’s work.
- Delay in giving the contractor possession of the site.
- Force majeure (such as a war or an epidemic).
- Loss from a specified peril such as flood.
- The supply of materials and goods by the client.
- National strikes.
- Changes in statutory requirements.
- Delays in receiving permissions that the contractor has taken reasonable steps to avoid.
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.
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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