(The Diaries of a Quantum Expert acting as a PQS – Chapter 1)

The adversarial nature of our industry has been discussed at length. It is obvious that people’s tempers fray from time to time, but this contractor was on another level!

I have never previously met a contractor where the commercial team were verbally and physically aggressive. From the very first meeting, the commercial director of this reasonable sized contractor was shouting at me and slamming the desk. Why? Essentially, because he wasn’t getting his own way.

This was early in the contract programme (week two) in a JCT intermediate contract. There had been a lengthy delay due to the discovery of asbestos. The contractor had in fairness applied for, and been granted, an extension of time which was a ‘relevant matter’. Therefore it was entitled to claim for loss and expense.

However, rather than claiming for its actual costs, the contractor saw this as an opportunity to make some money. The employer’s agent saw this degrading relationship as a huge risk to its client and called (at the right time) for expert support.

The contractor was claiming 100% of its contract preliminaries (at week two!). This was combined with various spurious loss and expense claims in addition. I stripped the valuation right back, paid the correct contract preliminaries (two week’s worth) and, due to the contractor’s incomprehensible payment application, I had to make a fair assessment of the contractor’s costs. I would note, before the contractors reading this jump on my back, I was not (as accused) stifling the contractor’s cashflow. I was valuing the contractor’s entitlement under the contract.

My valuation was of course not well received!

It infuriated the contractor more. The commercial relationship broke down further. Still to this day, I am unsure if this contractor didn’t understand the concept of loss and expense, or if it was just playing a game. Maybe a bit of both.

How did we navigate the remainder of the programme and protect the client’s interests? The relationship had deteriorated to the point it was unsalvageable. It was therefore time to revert to first principles of following the contract and keeping accurate records.

Categories: Case Study