Study reveals significant confusion over COVID-19 liabilities

FASET endeavours to keep its members up to date with the latest developments in the construction industry, including those regarding COVID-19. Research from quantity surveying firm Turner & Townsend claims that one in three construction contracts are not fit to address the effects of notifiable Covid-19 events.

The inadequacy of contract conditions is leaving clients bearing responsibility for additional costs and time delays.

The study found that the majority of liability arising from COVID-19 events was believed to be held by the contractual ‘employer’ – the party that engages the contractor, rather than the supplier.

The findings highlight a need for greater clarity over contract terms, according to the authors,  particularly with 83% of respondents experiencing a pause or temporary site closure because of COVID-19, and a further 72% reporting reduced productivity levels.

45% of those surveyed reported an increase in contractual disputes since the start of the pandemic, while a third said that their contracts were unfit to address the effects of notifiable COVID-19 events – partly due to the interpretation of liability for unforeseen events and reliance upon force majeure clauses.

Furthermore, 43% of respondents considered that COVID-19 events were not sufficient on their own to claim additional time and/or money.

Just about everyone, it seems, is looking for answers to these problems: 63% of respondents have sought contractual guidance from the government due to the uncertainty; another third have consulted their industry bodies or sought professional advice.

With contractors still cautious about existing contract provisions and liability for cost and time events caused by COVID-19, the research found that 49% are building in COVID-19 related costs in their tender submissions.

FASET is the established trade association and training body for the safety netting and temporary safety systems industry.

FASET has long been a foundation in supporting its members with expert quality guidance, dedicated working at height training and exclusive membership benefit schemes all with the intention of promoting a safer way of working.

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