Contractors face a multitude of issues, some of which (like a shortage of work, delay in awarding public works tenders, and a restless and aggressive labour force) are beyond their control. Others, though, stem from poor understanding of how contracts work and a tendency just to sign any document simply in order to get work. This kind of short-term thinking ultimately sees so many contractors finding themselves in a lengthy and expensive dispute and often not getting the payments they expect.
Building contracts are highly specialised documents and one needs specialised knowledge to understand what they entail. I am involved in a lot of dispute work, either as an adjudicator or helping contractors to prepare claims going to adjudication, and I can testify to the fact that claimants who have made sure they understand the contract and have all the details at their fingertips get quick – and often favourable – results.
All too often, though, I find that contractors have entered into contracts that they don’t fully understand, with the result that they miss out on lucrative opportunities and miss crucial deadlines, in turn making them liable for penalties.
It’s absolutely vital that contractors understand the contracts they sign, what their entitlements are and what risks they face. My best advice would be for contractors to consult a reputable risk consultant before they enter into a contract, just to make sure they are doing the right thing.
If they do find themselves in a contract which looks like it is going sour, MBA North offers initial contractual and commercial advice for free to its members. This will provide a quick review of the contractor’s circumstances, and an executive summary of its position and a suggested strategy.
While specialist advice is critical at certain stages, it cannot substitute for a solid understanding of contractual issues and strategies on the part of the contractor. Nobody is a better steward of your wellbeing, commercial and otherwise, than you are!
To equip contractors with the information they need, MBA North will offer a three-part series of three-hour webinars designed to provide contractors with the basics they need to keep their contractual affairs in order. Any contractors working under JBCC and MBSA contracts should attend.
What contractors can expect
These training sessions offer an affordable way to acquire important information and skills – especially when compared to the costs of litigation when a contract goes wrong.
The next webinar series on contracts and contract management will take place in November. For more information, email az.oc.htronabm@alliehs.