A Suggested Ban on Queens of Hearts Clauses

queenMany if not most construction contracts contain notice provisions, which are fine: contractor have to give reasonable notice of their claims. Others contain Queen of Hearts clauses: clauses which are designed to be practically impossible of compliance and hence to frustrate the underlying contractual scheme of payment for varied work, extension of time in defined circumstances, etc.

Recently, I have seen examples where

  • The contractor is required to give no less than 10 notices/claims  in respect of the same event, each expressed to be a condition precedent to payment;
  • The contractor is required to provide a full time impact analysis every time something happens which might – just might – cause a delay;
  • If the employer issues a variation order, varying the work, the contract has to promptly give notice in a prescribed form that the variation order varies the work. Again, this completely pointless notice is a condition precedent to payment for the varied work.

I have not yet seen a provision requiring claims to be submitted on unicorn vellum and served on Father Christmas, but the effect is much Continue reading

Spoiled for Choice

Doyle’s Guide is, it seems, the most reliable of the guides to lawyers in Australia, and their 2017 Construction Law rankings are due out tomorrow, they tell me.

They also tell me that I am now free to any of the following ranking recognition banners:

Now, which  of these, I wonder, should I choose? Not all of them, obviously, or one will end up looking like a North Korean General:



A Rare Petition

575238_222880941184528_1973088916_nI am not big into petitions. But the recent By-Law designed to stop dogs running freely on local beaches really does get my goat.

So, if you can be troubled, and if you agree that dogs (including Perdita, of course) should be allowed to run freely on the beach, I really would be grateful if you would add your name.

You can read more and sign the petition here: Continue reading

Adjudication Review Time

I have not been posting here as much as usual recently, for the prosaic reason that I have been fully stretched working on cases that have demanded full-time attention.

One advantage of the bar is that there is a sort of self-limiting protection against overwork: one can only be in one court at a time. And so I have had to turn away a number of briefs recently simply because I have been already briefed to do something else at the same time. When I was a solicitor, there was no such mechanism. So, “Sorry” to those I have had to say “no” to.

john-murrayThe great majority of what I have been doing has been in relation to adjudications, and I was very pleased to see that the Federal Government has launched a review into the absurd disparities between the Acts in different States and Territories, to be run by John Murray. I was honoured to be able to lead the Society of Construction Law Australia’s report into all of this in 2014: we came down firmly in favour of a federal system.  I have acted or advised in adjudications in all jurisdictions in Australia apart from Tasmania and the ACT, and have encountered no good reason at all for the present patchwork of quite different regimes in different States and Territories. The challenges and the best answers are the same everywhere.

The Federal Government’s Media Release is Continue reading