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Construction Law/Understanding Construction Contract


Up to my knowledge , not all terms can be precisely explain in the contract and sometimes we have to understand or read the clauses between the line. For instance, there was a clause mentioned "initial expiry date" but the definition of "initial expiry date" was not explained in the contract. Therefore we can assume that the "initial expiry date" is Original completion period + defect liability period.

Than, how do we know that those items have to be read between the line?

Thank you.

Dear Fadzir,

Thanks for your question,

Your question is one of the issues i particularly always remind all Contract specialist and contract administrators to be careful in drafting contract. In drafting contract, simple English are more favoured to be more straightforward than complex ones. Also, short sentences are advisable. It is also important to use words that has no ambiguous meaning i.e. words that cannot be twisted into many interpretations.

For me, in my opinion, the interpretation of the term "initial expiry date" would depend upon the context wherein it has been used. if it has been used like "the initial expiry date of the contract is...." then, you may have to look at the contract holistically including the programme of works and see, if any part of the contract has been indicated to be completed earlier or not.

I will find it hard to agree that the initial expiry date (if not specifically defined) in a contract would mean original completion period. I am just thinking, if this is the case, probably, if you check the Contract Condition, at the definition page, you could figure out the precise definition as it applied to the specific contract.

My opinion (in case, nothing could be relied upon in the contract as to the specific or implied meaning of the term), the term "initial expiry date" would mean "the original contract completion date named in the contract before any other revision thereof". It would then mean, that, if such date is not revised under the contract, such "initial expiry date" would also mean the "final expiry date" which by my interpretation would refer to "the practical completion date"

I hope this has helped you.


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Femi Alofe


I can answer all questions relating to the followings: 1. Contract Administration - variations, contract clauses interpretation, all post contract procedures, valuations and certificates questions, extension of time issues and prolongation cost matters. 2. Contract Practice - Any questions regarding forms of contract like JCT, FIDIC & other Bespoke forms. 3. Quantification, measurements and Estimating questions 4. Contracts and construction law questions and dispute resolutions problems. 5. All FIDIC Conditions of contracts


Out of my 24 years experience in construction industry, i have the following specific experience: 1. Contract Administration - 15 years in contract administration with over 10yrs in Managerial positions covering africa and the middleeast. 2. Contract Practice - 15 years experience with over 10yrs in Managerial and expert positions covering africa, north america and the middleeast. 3. All pre-contract procedures, Tendering, Quantification, measurements and Estimating questions - 20 years experience. 4. Contracts and construction law questions and dispute resolutions problems - 15 years experience with over 10yrs in Managerial and expert positions and 5 years expert witness and active practice in arbitration proceedings covering africa and the middleeast.

1. FAIQS - Fellow, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Australia 2. FRICS - Fellow, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, UK 3. CCP - Certified Cost Professional AACEI, USA 4. PQS - CIQS, CANADA 5. ACIArb. - CIArb, UK 6. MNIQS - NIQS, NIGERIA 7. RQS - QSRBN, NIGERIA

1. AACEI RP on Estimating, 2010

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