Construction contracts are replete with notice requirements. If the contractor sees something, discovers something, believes something, then timely written notice must be provided. It is therefore no surprise that disputes regarding the sufficiency of notices are common. Many times the dispute centers on the proper form or format of the notice.
A federal construction contract contained the standard “Specifications and Drawings for Construction” clause. Prompt notice of any discrepancy is required if the contractor wants the problem to result in a compensable change. The contractor in this case argued that repeated requests for information were adequate to alert the government to deficiencies in the drawings. The government responded that a more formal notice citing the contract clause and demanding a change order was required.
It was ruled that the government was elevating form over substance. All that is required is communication from the contractor that alerts the government to specific deficiencies or discrepancies in the design documents. This can be accomplished through a request for information. No magic words or incantations are necessary.
The other case in this issue involved a complex “corporate family of entities.” A court was forced to decipher a prime contractor’s corporate lineage in order to determine whether a subcontractor could recover the subcontract balance.