Footing the bill

first_imgWilliam Clark Partnership was employed to undertake QS and project management services for a developer called Dock Street in respect of a site which included a new build primary health care centre. Not only did the project run £730,000 over budget but William Clark and the developer had a serious falling out. Dock Street refused to pay the consultant’s final fee instalment, arguing that the service provided was inadequate and that its mistakes had contributed to the cost overrun. William Clark sued for its fees and the case ended up being heard in the Technology and Construction Court last year. For case report, see William Clark Partnership Ltd vs Dock St PCT Ltd in the TCC.One of the developer’s gripes was that the consultant had instructed unnecessary and costly variations which had pushed the scheme over budget. For example, the original plan had involved an external paved courtyard which was then changed part way through the project to introduce a “boulder and decorative stone design”. The developer identified seven such changes to the scope, costing in total an extra £215,000, which it argued were unnecessary and had provided no increased value or benefit for the development. It claimed the right to deduct the cost of all these items of work from the fees otherwise due to the consultant.The court judgment analysed, in turn, each of the seven variations and concluded that the consultant could not be blamed for some of them. In particular, some of the variations were only required because the original scope was inadequate, such that the changes implemented were unavoidable. However, the court found that some of the changes, including the external landscaping, were unnecessary and because the budget was tight, the consultant should not have instructed them. The developer remained liable for part of the consultant’s final fee but subject to a substantial reduction because of these “unnecessary” variations.The case is a timely reminder that consultants can be liable for the cost of the variations they instruct. In particular, attention needs to be paid to the appointment with the client and what it says about the consultant’s authority to instruct changes and obtain prior approval.The case is a timely reminder that consultants can be liable for the cost of the variations they instructMost construction contracts will give the consultant a very wide power, as the named contract administrator, to instruct any type of additional work, with practically no proviso or limitation. In this role the consultant acts as the commercial agent of the employer and has extensive powers to bind the employer to pay the contractor additional money for extra work. The variation mechanism under a construction contract operates such that the contractor can rely on the consultant’s instruction without having to worry about getting authorisation direct from the employer. The contractor will therefore always have a right to be paid for the instructed change even if the employer knows nothing about the variation.Precisely because the consultant has this largely unfettered power to bind the employer to pay for variations means it needs to be exercised with extreme caution.While the variation power under the construction contract will typically contain very few provisos, the consultant’s own appointment with the employer will often place very strict limits on its discretion to instruct changes. For example, the RICS Standard Form of Consultant’s Appointment, clause 11, states that the consultant may not change the scope unless it has the prior written approval of the employer. If the consultant fails to get such approval it will be in breach of contract, potentially making itself liable for the cost of the additional, unapproved, work.Consultants need to act with utmost caution because they will be in day-to-day email exchanges with the contractor concerning the ongoing project and the details of the scope. Any such email could amount to a variation instruction authorising a variation under the contract. After all, most construction contracts do not impose rigorous formal procedures for instructing change. Provided that the communication directing the change to the scope is “in writing” then a contract variation will have been instructed and the employer will be liable to pay the contractor.If the consultant’s appointment is anything like the RICS standard form then unless the employer has given prior written consent, the consultant could well end up on the hook for the cost.Michael Sergeant is a partner in the construction team at Holman Fenwick Willan and the co-author of Construction Contract Variationslast_img read more


Cahill hit with another injury setback

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Tipp County Board Tipperary senior hurler Michael Cahill is likely to miss the Munster senior hurling championship with an injury to his kneecap.It’s reported that he collided with a team-mate during training, forllowing which he was taken to hospital and had to undergo surgery.The injury comes just as the Sars man was returning to training following a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered last year in club action.last_img


‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ cast includes trans actors

first_imgSony Pictures(NEW YORK) — While comic fans buzzed about seeing Spidey alongside Marvel movie newcomer Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio in the first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, the LGBTQ community had something else to cheer about. One of Peter Parker’s buddies in the movie is played by 22-year-old trans actor Zach Barack. This marks one of the first times a trans actor has been featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition, The Advocate reports trans actor Tyler Luke Cunningham is a featured extra in the same film.In Barack’s Instagram posts, you can see the actor alongside his good buddy Jacob Batalon, who plays Peter’s bestie Ned in the upcoming film from Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures.  Spider-Man follows popular CW show Supergirl, which cast 21-year-old trans performer Nicole Maines as the hero Dreamer. Maines knows her casting was significant for other trans actors.“If I had had a trans superhero, someone who looks like me wearing a cape, [while] growing up, that would have changed the game,” the actress recently told USA TODAY. “That would have been an entire new level of validation in myself, to think that I can be a superhero!”Venus Lux, a trans activist, entrepreneur, and adult film star, tells ABC Radio that the tide is finally turning.“I’m so proud and I’m so happy to be in this…time right now, that, you know, this can actually happen,” she says. “It’s not a dream. It is a reality.”She adds, “It just requires consistency of like pushing the envelope, and allowing more trans folks to be included and not just in a way where we’re portraying certain characters, but also having the stories behind us.”  Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more