Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Ltd v Modus Corovest (Blackpool) Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Technology and Construction Court)
JudgeMr Justice Coulson
Judgment Date04 December 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] EWHC 3029 (TCC)
Date04 December 2008
Docket NumberCase No: HT-08302

[2008] EWHC 3029 (TCC)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

TECHNOLOGY AND CONSTRUCTION COURT

St Dunstan's House

133—137 Fetter Lane

London EC4A 1HD

Before:

Mr Justice Coulson

Case No: HT-08302

Between:
Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Limited
Claimant
and
Modus Corovest (blackpool) Ltd
Defendant

Mr Stephen Furst QC and Mr Piers Stansfield (instructed by McGrigors) for the Claimant.

Mr Martin Bowdery QC (instructed by DWF) for the Defendant.

Mr Justice Coulson

A. THE DISPUTE

1

The Claimant, Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Limited (“Balfour Beatty”), seeks summary judgment pursuant to CPR Part 24 in respect of two separate claims. The first is the enforcement of an adjudicator's decision in their favour, dated 2nd October 2008, in the sum of £180,858.69, including VAT and fees, together with interest of £2,633.68. The second is based upon a valuation/interim certificate 29 in the sum of £976,265.20, together with interest of £18,723.

2

The Defendant, Modus Corovest (Blackpool) Ltd (“Modus”), seek a stay of proceedings so that the disputes can be the subject of mediation. If the proceedings are not stayed, they oppose both applications made by Balfour Beatty. They also seek to set off their counterclaim against any sums that would otherwise be due to Balfour Beatty and/or they seek summary judgment on that counterclaim for liquidated damages in the sum of £2,073,300.

3

In connection with these applications, I have read the following 10 statements:

(a) two statements from Ms Davies, Balfour Beatty's solicitor;

(b) two statements from Ms Thomson, Balfour Beatty's in-house solicitor;

(c) two statements from Mr Emslie, Balfour Beatty's project director;

(d) one statement from Mr O'Kane, Modus' solicitor;

(e) two statements from Mr Parr, an employee of Reay & Co, Modus' agent in connection with the project; and

(f) one statement from Mr Kilbride a director of Modus.

In addition, although there are a considerable number of exhibits, the primary documentation relevant to these disputes is actually of relatively narrow compass.

B. THE CONTRACT

4

By a contract dated 17th March 2006, Modus engaged Balfour Beatty to carry out the design and construction of major works at Hounds Hill Shopping Centre in Blackpool. The contract sum was £33,066,218. Modus' agents were Reay & Co, who in turn sublet the quantity surveying aspect of the work to Gleeds. The contract works were subdivided into 33 separate sections and a sectional completion supplement was agreed.

5

The contract incorporated the terms of the JCT Standard Form of Building Contract with Contracted Design (1998 edition). The contract incorporated standard amendments 1 to There were also further homemade amendments agreed by the parties; and some of those homemade amendments related to the clauses that were already amended by way of the standard amendments. This has meant that, on occasion, parts of the same clause are to be found in three different sections of the voluminous contract documentation.

6

I set out below the contract terms that are relevant to these disputes. For convenience I identify those terms under four headings: changes, delay, interim payments and dispute resolution.

7

As to changes to the Employer's Requirements, the relevant terms were principally set out in clause 12. Clause 12.1 defined a change to the Employer's Requirements as including the 'addition, omission and/or substitution of any work'. Clause 12.2.1 provided:

“The Employer may subject to the proviso hereto issue instructions effecting a change in the Employer's Requirements. No change effected by the Employer shall vitiate this Contract. For the avoidance of doubt, the approval or sanctioning of drawings, details and other information submitted pursuant to clause 5.3 shall not constitute an acceptance of any changes incorporated thereon and any changes specifically instructed under this clause shall constitute a Change in the Employer's requirements for the purpose of this Contract. Provided that the Employer may not effect a Change which is or makes necessary, any alteration or modification in the design of the Works if the Contractor objects by showing (with reasons) that such alteration or modification would adversely affect the efficacy of the Contractor's designs for the Works …”

8

Supplemental Condition 6 was also concerned with changes. It provided a mechanism whereby, if there was a clause 12 change instruction, Balfour Beatty would obtain estimates within a short period and then endeavour to agree the cost of the proposed change with Modus before the work was carried out. Supplemental Condition 6.6 provided that:

“If the Contractor is in breach of S6.2, compliance with the instruction shall be dealt with in accordance with clauses 12, 25 and 26, but any resultant addition to the Contract Sum in respect of such compliance shall not be included in the Interim Payments but shall be included in the adjustment of the Contract Sum under clause 30.5. Provided that such addition shall not include any amount in respect of loss of interest or any financing charges in respect of the cost to the Contractor of compliance with the instruction which have been suffered or incurred by him prior to the date of the issue of the Final Statement and Final Account or the Employer's Final Statement and the Employer's Final Account.”

9

The terms of the contract dealing with delay were amended to reflect the sectional completion supplement, but the critical provisions were these:

(a) The completion date was defined as “the date for completion as fixed and stated in Appendix 1, or any date fixed under clause 25”.

(b) Balfour Beatty were, in certain circumstances, entitled to claim extensions of time pursuant to the detailed provisions set out in clause 25. One of the relevant events in respect of which an extension might be granted was the instruction of a Change or Changes to the Employer's Requirements.

(c) Modus were entitled to damages for non-completion in accordance with clause 24. The relevant parts of that clause for present purposes were as follows:

“24.1 If the Contractor fails to complete the construction of the Works by the Completion Date, the Employer shall issue a notice in writing to the Contractor to that effect. In the event of a new Completion Date being fixed after the issue of such a notice in writing, such fixing shall cancel that notice and the Employer shall issue such further notice in writing under clause 24.1 as may be necessary.

24.2.1 Provided

—the Employer has issued a notice under clause 24.1 and

—the Employer, before the date when the Final Account and Final Statement … become conclusive as to the balance due between the Parties by agreement or by the operation of clause 30.5.5 or clause 30.5.8 has informed the Contractor in writing that he may requirement payment of, or may withhold or deduct, liquidated and ascertained damages,

then the Employer may not later than five days before the final date for the payment of the debt due under clause 30.6;

either

.1.1 require in writing the Contractor to pay to the Employer liquidated and ascertained damages at the rate stated in Appendix 1 … for the period between the Completion Date and the date of Practical Completion, and the Employer may recover the same as a debt; or

.1.2 give a notice pursuant to clause 30.3.4 or clause 30.6.2 to the Contractor that he will deduct from monies due to the Contractor liquidated and ascertained damages at the rate stated in Appendix 1 … for the period between the Completion Date and the date of Practical Completion.”

10

Clause 30.3 dealt with the payment mechanism that was relevant to interim payments under this contract. Clause 30.3.1 provided that Balfour Beatty would make monthly applications for stage payments. The critical provisions for present purposes were these:

“30.3.2 Each Application for Interim Payment shall be accompanied by such details as may be stated in the Employer's Requirements.

30.3.3 Not later than five days after the receipt of an application for payment, the Employer shall give a written notice to the Contractor specifying the amount of payment proposed to be made in respect of that application, the basis on which such amount is calculated and to what that amount relates and, subject to clause 30.3.4, shall pay the amount proposed no later than the final date for payment.

30.3.4 Not later than five days before the final date for payment of an amount due pursuant to clause 30.3.3, the Employer may give a written notice to the Contractor which shall specify any amount proposed to be withheld and/or deducted from that due amount, the ground or grounds for such withholding and/or deduction and the amount of withholding and/or deduction attributable to each ground.

30.3.5 Where the Employer does not give any written notice pursuant to clause 30.3.3 and/or to clause 30.3.4, the Employer shall pay the Contractor the amount properly due in the Application for Interim Payment.

30.3.6 The final date for the payment of an amount due in an interim payment shall be 21 days from the date of receipt by the Employer of the Contractor's Application for Interim Payment.”

11

Articles dealing with dispute resolution were as follows:

(a) Article 6A provided that:

“If any dispute or difference arises under or in connection with this Contract, where the parties have agreed to do so, the dispute or difference may be submitted to mediation in accordance with the provisions of clause 39B.

(b) Article 6B provided that:

“Subject to articles 5 and 6A, if any dispute or difference as to any matter or thing of whatsoever nature arising...

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