Delay On Construction Projects

Delay and disruption, like payment and defects, are core issues on construction projects and hence frequent subjects of disputes.

Under a construction contract a contractor agrees to complete its works by a given date, allowing the client to plan for occupancy of the property thereafter, and the contractor to plan to move resource elsewhere from that date. If, however, the works are not completed by that date, inevitably either or both parties will incur a loss, e.g. the client will not be able to let the property at that date. Therefore, the parties need to agree in the contract how to deal with that situation should it happen. That means how to deal with adjusting the completion date and how to compensate the innocent party.

In terms of the completion date, it will be adjusted if the innocent party is the contractor (ie an extension of time granted), but not so if it is the client. In the former case it will be moved forward to the extent of the delay caused by the client. In the latter case the date will remain the same.

In terms of the compensation, if the contractor is at fault, it will be penalised in damages. Those will be liquidated damages (LADs) if they have been fixed by the parties and recorded in the contract. If they have not been, they will be unliquidated and will need to be proved. If the contractor is the innocent party though, it will make a claim for loss and expense, and the client will assess it in accordance with the contract.

Sometimes delay and/or disruption occurs on a project but it does not actually affect the completion date. That is because it is not on the critical path, i.e. not part of the sequence of work activities that alone cause a project to complete on time or not. Therefore, the completion date will not be moved in that situation. Often a critical path analysis must be produced to demonstrate delay to completion, because the project is complex, with a great number of works activities, and the real causes of the delay need to be pinned down.

A contractor is usually required under a construction contract to notify the client as soon as it thinks delay is likely and supply details and evidence, so that there is early warning.

Delay can be analysed prospectively or retrospectively, i.e. predicted or assessed after the event. The latter will inevitably be more accurate.

Ridgemont regularly advise on delay provisions in contracts and on delay disputes.

Why Ridgemont?

Ridgemont’s team is made up of expert senior solicitors, all of whom previously worked in “Big Law” (i.e. the top 50 law firms in the UK).

We provide bespoke advice tailored to your needs.  Our advice is commercial and pragmatic, enabling you to use it effectively to make business decisions.

We have an expert understanding of construction law. We can guide you through the maze of delay on construction projects.

We are user-friendly.  Our lawyers speak in plain English, providing service levels akin to “Big Law”. We have built our processes to make onboarding as pain-free as possible. Our fee earner structure means that you have access to a partner-level solicitor at all times and they will always be on top of your matter.

We operate our business in an ethical way.  That means we think about what the “right thing to do” is when making a business decision.  As an example, we do not charge a default unit of time for incoming emails or letters as we think we ought to be paid for work done, not for merely receiving correspondence. We are also open and transparent on what we charge, meaning our clients never receive a surprising invoice.

We provide “Big Law” service levels and quality of advice, with expert senior solicitors providing commercial, pragmatic advice. Necessarily, that does not come cheap as we have to invest in great lawyers and everything they need to do their job. However, due to us having comparatively lower overheads to “Big Law” firms, we are able to charge less than they would for providing the same service levels and advice.

We are proactive in finding innovative ways to advise our clients in a cost proportionate way.

Who we act for?

We act for developers, contractors, sub-contractors, professionals and investors across a range of sectors from residential to retail.

Your journey with us
  1. Get in touch using the contact form below, calling us on 0203 909 9590 or emailing us at
  2. We guarantee that we will be in touch with you the same day to listen to your needs and to explain how we can help and the likely cost.
  3. Assuming you wish to engage us, we will then onboard you as a client, which normally takes a matter of hours.
  4. From there, you will be assigned an experienced solicitor who will have conduct of your matter from cradle to grave and be available to speak to you and responsive to emails at every juncture.

You can learn more about our journey by watching these videos.

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