Badly Presented Claims

Our training partners, Claims Class, teach the following four key points in claim and response writing:

  • Key Point 1 – Make the reader’s job as easy and as pleasant as possible;
  • Key Point 2 – Ensure that the submission is a stand-alone document;
  • Key Point 3 – Assume that the reviewer has no prior knowledge of the project or circumstances;
  • Key Point 4 – Irrelevant information should not be included in the document.

I have recently dealt with a claim which did not adopt this approach and I would like to share the results with you to emphasise the importance of complying with these principles.

I was appointed by the Employer to review the Contractor’s claim and produce a recommendation for issue by the Engineer. The claim was for an extension of time based on the fact that missing design information prevented the Contractor from ordering electrical equipment and that this delayed the project.

I should say at the outset that the claim was a fair one and the contract entitled the Contractor to an extension of time under these circumstances. The point I am trying to make however, is that the Contractor did not make life easy for me, or ultimately, for himself.

When I first read through the claim narrative, I noticed that the Contractor had repeated the same things many different times throughout the claim unnecessarily. So, having to read the same thing several times is just annoying and it is certainly not making my job pleasant (Key Point 1).

The narrative then skipped around randomly and did not deal with things in a logical way. For example, demonstration of entitlement would be mixed up with a discussion of the cause of the delay. This is just confusing to a reader. A good narrative tells a story that takes the reader on a journey, which will eventually lead to a logical conclusion.

The narrative contained a number of abbreviations without any explanation. Maybe an electrical engineer would have understood the meanings of ‘DB’, ‘MDB’ or ‘SMDB’, but I had to ask someone in the engineer’s office to explain that these meant ‘electrical distribution board’, ‘main distribution board’ and ‘submain distribution board’. I did know what a bus bar was though! This is annoying and inconvenient and is a good example of incorrectly assuming that the reviewer has prior knowledge of the project or circumstances.

The claim did not contain substantiation of many statements made within the claim. For example, the Contractor stated that he had submitted notices within the time frames stipulated in the Contract. The claim did not include documentary substantiation of this, so it did not comprise a stand-alone document. I was therefore obliged to check the records to verify this assertion, which was a further annoyance. In the event, I found that the Contractor has not, in fact, submitted the notices within the time frames as he had stated in the claim. This led me to the conclusion that the Contractor was attempting to hide the truth, which made me look at everything else very critically.

You may think that my comments are somewhat petty but let me go on the explain that based on the information submitted within the claim and additional information that I was obliged to find myself, I recommended an extension of time award which was significantly less than the Contractor had claimed. When the claim assessment was issued to the Contractor, he immediately responded to say that I had not taken several things into account. I asked the Contractor to show me where these things were included in his claim…

They weren’t.

The Contractor subsequently submitted additional particulars and I revised the assessment. This did not end the matter though, because the Contractor then remembered some other information that he had not included. The claim assessment went through three revisions before the matter was concluded, which wasted both my time and the Contractor’s and prevented the matter from being resolved for several months.

Had the Contractor been aware and taken account of the four key points when compiling the claim, it could have been finalised both easily and quickly and with much less expense and effort.

Interested in learning more about claims and getting recognized for your effort? Check out our training partnership with Claims Class courses and routes to ICCP membership.