Make Sure You Get Noticed! (Part 3)

This is the last of three posts about the all important subject of notices.

Essential points of a ‘good’ letter or notice

It is not necessary to be a ‘barrack room lawyer’ or a ‘smart Alec’ in order to write a good letter.

notice, notifications during construction worksSome key points are:

  • Put the subject heading at the top of every letter.
  • Make the letter ‘self-contained’ so a stranger can understand it in a year’s time.
  • Confine the contents to the simple facts without emotion.
  • Don’t delay – write the letter while the problem is happening.
  • Make sure you comply with the requirements of the contract (if it says a notice is only valid if sent by Special Delivery, then that is what you must do).
  • Make sure you send it to the right person/place (some Contractors include very specific requirements).

Things to Ensure:

  1. Put the notice in writing as soon as the problem becomes apparent.
  2. Use an objective non-confrontational tone, but don’t use ‘victim language’ (“we have been prevented… rather than “we are in delay…”).
  3. State the specific problem causing the delay or disruption, the area affected, and the and actions required from others.
  4. Give a view as to the effects on programme and overall completion.
  5. Request extension of time if necessary.
  6. Give details of any obvious cost effects.
  7. Update as necessary from time to time and record date when delay is cleared.
  8. Show willingness to co-operate but not at our own expense.

Be Proactive!

Serve your notices, but don’t get bogged down in a ‘letter war’ for its own sake. Show a willingness to talk to the Client and/or Contractor and explain your problem to them, discuss and propose possible solutions.

One often overlooked purpose of giving notice is to ensure the Contractor knows exactly what is going on, and to give him the opportunity to do something about the matters which are delaying you.

Obligations To Accelerate

In the absence of an express provision within the contract, there is no general obligation on the Contractor or you the subcontractor to accelerate the progress of the works where they have fallen behind programme because of matters beyond your control.

If the Contractor wishes you to accelerate then he must secure your agreement. If he purports to issue a direction to accelerate, you can refuse to comply unless he can demonstrate that he is empowered to instruct you to do so under the contract.

So, watch out for non-standard clauses requiring free acceleration!

Back up the notice with evidence

Don’t rely on anyone else to have details of the delay issue. They might be the party who ends up making the final decision if the issue gets referred to Adjudication or Arbitration, and/or be keen to see your claim fail.

Wherever possible supply back up information to support the delay notice, if you can cross reference all other information, including, if possible, a programme showing the effect on the works. If you can’t send back up information at the time, then follow it up as soon as you can with further information.

Whatever You Do You Must Take Action

Take action to safeguard your business from the catastrophic impact of delay and disruption.

If you don’t then it could cost you your business…

Unscrupulous Contractors use every trick in the book, to reduce and delay payments, including blaming you for delay and setting off all the costs against your account.

Don’t be one of the casualties, take action now.

You can call us for initial no cost advice on 01773 712116, and our Gold and Platinum Buddies can use their commercial and contractual consultancy to establish the best course of action.

Whatever level your business is at, and whatever your specialisation I want to encourage you to experience and enjoy a better more profitable, less stressful way.  For more information or help please contact us.

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