“Sufficient Information” in Construction Contracts: Merely a Question of Fact!
The term “Sufficient Information” appears in two standard forms of building contract used in Singapore (PSSCOC1 and SIA Standard Form of Contract2) and relates to particulars a contractor must provide to the contract administrator3 in support of his extension of time application. Nothing wrong with that we hear you say, quite normal in fact and to be expected when trying to estimate how much extension of time to grant.
What constitutes “Sufficient Information” can be extremely subjective and from experience, the requirement is often met after numerous exchanges of correspondence between the contractor and contract administrator. This is very much a trial and error process with the contract administrator taking the usual position of not saying exactly what information he requires. To some, this may be viewed as an opportunity or license to procrastinate, particularly as both the PSSCOC and SIA Standard Form of Contract only obliges the contract administrator to determine extensions of time when he is in receipt of sufficient information.
Sadly, such discretionary powers may be used to defer the prospective award of extension of time until a convenient date in the future or when the Works are near to or at completion, at which time the full extent of the delay is apparent. In the case of the SIA Standard Form of Contract, the contract administrator can wait until the Final Certificate is issued.
This puts the contractor in the position of not knowing what extension to expect (if any). Does he speed-up work to avoid possible delay damages or continue in the belief that an extension of time will be granted. So, what must a contractor do? Is there an industry test or checklist that can be used to show how and what information is to be presented or is it simply a question of cobbling together as much information as possible and submitting to the contract administrator in the hope that he will do the rest? Quite often it is the latter that seems to be the norm with little or no attempt being made by the contractor to establish the facts or circumstances surrounding the alleged delay event.
1: Public Sector Standard Conditions of Contract (2005 Edition) Clause 14.3 (1) & 14.3 (3)
2: Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) Standard Form of Contract (Sixth Edition) Clause 23.4
3: Superintending Officer or Architect