Editor's Notes

Construction contracts commonly impose “notice of claim” requirements on contractors. Written notice must be provided within a stated number of days after the event, followed by documentation and quantification within another specific period. Failure to comply defeats the contractor’s right to additional compensation. These clauses are generally enforceable, but many jurisdictions will entertain arguments that the project owner waived enforcement of the procedure through its conduct or was not prejudiced by the lack of formal notice. Some jurisdictions, however, strictly enforce the requirement.


In the state of Washington, a public project owner was fully aware of the events underlying a contractor’s delay claim yet continued to attempt to negotiate a settlement of the matter long after the formal notice period had expired. Would the courts still enforce the notice requirement against the contractor?


The second case in this issue involved a contract that expressly disclaimed owner liability for “monetary damages” for delay regardless of the cause, including owner-caused delay. However, the contract also authorized contractor recovery of an “equitable price adjustment” for “increased costs” caused by delay within the public project owner’s reasonable control. The contractor was delayed by undisclosed man-made obstructions at the owner’s site. How would this be treated?


The third case addressed government responses to a contractor’s submittal and the contractor’s request for information. Did these responses lead the contractor to reasonably believe it should suspend work?




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