construction contracts

For projects that involve excavation or foundation work, even the most diligent pre-bid site survey may not fully inform the contractor of what conditions to expect below the surface. The risks of encountering unforeseen subsurface conditions are so high that, rather than encouraging bidders to include large contingencies in their proposals, construction lawyers have drafted a special clause—the Differing Site Conditions clause. The purpose of the Differing Site Conditions clause is to allocate the risk for conflicting, inaccurate, or incomplete pre-bid information furnished by the project owner. While the Differing Site Conditions Clause should, in theory, be a pile driver’s closest ally, recent cases interpreting this clause highlight some of the challenges to prosecuting claims under this provision.
Continue Reading What Lies Beneath (And Who Pays for It?): Common Issues Arising Under the Differing Site Conditions Clause

Owners and contractors trying to understand the full impact of COVID-19 on their projects are likely turning to delay[1] or force majeure provisions in their construction contracts to assess their rights or liabilities for continued performance. An event of force majeure is a circumstance that prevents someone from fulfilling a contract, and many articles recently have been written addressing the contours of typical force majeure clauses.
Continue Reading Temporary Impracticality or Frustration of Construction Contracts During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the exponential spread of COVID-19, owners, contractors, and design professionals are recognizing the substantial impact this pandemic will have on the construction industry. Several states issued shelter-in-place orders, resulting in the suspension of some construction work.[1] In some states, this has resulted in work stoppages on some of our nation’s largest infrastructure projects. The financial impact of these work stoppages will be significant. As a result, parties to construction agreements have looked to their force majeure clauses for guidance on how these issues should be addressed.
Continue Reading Coronavirus Pandemic: My Construction Agreement Has a Force Majeure Clause, So Now What?

Globally, many developers and contractors are scrambling to identify available contractual relief as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disrupts cross-border supply chains. US businesses will recall a similar effort just eighteen months ago, when the Trump Administration announced increased tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. That trade war prompted  companies to scrutinize remedies and mitigate associated project risks by tapping alternative sources originating in other Asian countries and Canada. Once again, construction industry stakeholders should reexamine delay provisions in pending and future contracts to mitigate risks arising from project disruptions caused by COVID-19.

This article provides an overview of US case law interpreting the doctrine of force majeure in the context of disease-related delay claims. Drawing on that guidance, we then identify practical considerations for applying existing force majeure or related delay provisions and how they may be modified for future projects.
Continue Reading Managing Project Risk Associated with the Coronavirus Outbreak Through Force Majeure Provisions

The indemnity clause is one of the most scrutinized, negotiated, and litigated terms of any construction contract. The indemnity clause is a risk-shifting provision that requires the contractor to defend, reimburse, and “hold harmless” the owner and architect from claims and liability “arising out of” the contractor’s work. The indemnity clause is focused on bodily injury and property damage suffered by third parties seeking recompense against the owner. Indemnity clauses share the same core purpose, but can have varying reach, depending on the language used.
Continue Reading What Does the Indemnity Clause Cover and When Does the Claim Accrue?