Adverse Weather in Construction
This week the business pages have been full of the fact that the construction sector, particularly house-building, was back in growth in April after a terrible March.
The blame for the March downturn is laid firmly at the door of “the beast from the East”, with journalists noting that building sites were closed because of the weather conditions. Whilst the beast was particularly nasty, adverse weather is a problem addressed in most building and engineering contracts used in the UK, because our weather can be so unpredictable and increasingly severe. It veers from the beast to hosepipe bans, with no regard for the concept of four defined seasons.
But whilst adverse weather conditions is usually included in contracts as a reason for the contractor to be given an extension of time, there is little agreement on what constitutes adverse. JCT drafters have long opted for the “argue it out yourselves” policy of “adverse weather conditions”, whereas the IChemE contracts adopt a more prescribed and states “exceptionally adverse weather conditions that could not be predicted from the data recorded in the previous ten years in the nearest Met Office weather station to the site”. As with all contract terms, what ends up being included is down to the negotiating strength of the parties, but in general the more specific the contract is as to what constitutes adverse the less chance that the parties will end in dispute over it. Perhaps a compromise position might be “exceptionally adverse” – s snowfall in June is rather more adverse than it would be in January. Competent contractors might allow extra time if the programme requires pouring concrete in the winter, of course, but ultimately what they can claim comes down to the drafting.
For more information, please contact Derryn Rolfe, or give us a call on 0345 070 6000.