When an Owner comes after the Contractor for liquidated delay damages (LDs) after a project is completed late, the Contractor’s only substantive defense is to argue that the delay was excused by force majeure or Owner actions (naturally there may be procedural defenses, like timeliness). However, a recent decision by the United States Court of…

The U.S. Supreme Court has been deciding cases regarding arbitration at (for them) a furious pace recently, and the latest decision (Rent-A-Center West, Inc. v. Jackson, 2010 WL 2471058 (June 21, 2010)) reconfirms the Court’s continued strong support for enforcing arbitration agreements as written, even where this deprives the courts of any significant role in…

On Monday, April 19, 2010, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia handed down “the longest-ever prison sentence” for a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violation. Charles Jumet was sentenced to 87 months in prison for conspiring to violate the FCPA and for making false statements to federal agents. Jumet, a vice president…

When forced to litigate in the U.S., many businesses – especially multinational ones – prefer to be in federal rather than state court. The U.S. Supreme Court just made it a bit easier to fulfill that desire. Most construction disputes are contract cases not involving federal law, so a federal court will only have jurisdiction…

Contractors and suppliers operating abroad often conclude contracts with agents, consultants and other intermediaries who assist them in tender processes as well as in negotiating and performing contracts. Typically, these consultancy agreements provide that disputes are to be submitted to arbitration. Most disputes concern the consultants’ entitlement to a fee. In these disputes, the principal often argues that the contract was illegal under the applicable law. This notably occurred in two cases which led to two recent decisions of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court on applications to set aside or revise arbitral awards.

The tendering and procurement process in Canada has traditionally been treated by the courts as a special area of contract law in which fairness and protecting the integrity of the tender process have been guiding principles. Courts have implied terms into contract “A” bid contracts that have obliged owners to act fairly, and wide discretionary clauses have been interpreted narrowly to ensure the integrity of the tendering process.

Owners looking to maximize their control over the selection of contractors have continued to fine-tune instructions to bidders and attempt to limit their own liability. How far will the courts go to intervene in these commercial contracts because of the special status historically bestowed on the tendering process? In a 5 – 4 split decision, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has delivered its views in the case of Tercon Contractors Ltd. v. British Columbia (Ministry of Transportation and Highways), 2010 SCC 4. The SCC has highlighted the importance of maintaining the integrity of the tendering process and treating bidders fairly, but has also “laid to rest” the doctrine of fundamental breach in connection with exclusion clauses and provided guidelines for the future preparation and analysis of tender documents.

Opening the mailbox at my Hong Kong apartment block brings the usual array of bills, more bills, flyers and…what appear to be ‘notices’ (usually from my landlord): but as we know from the world of construction law, often it is argued that what is intended to be a ‘notice’ fails to meet up to the strict requirements of the contract.