We all know that something bad can happen on a construction project that can cause delay. The question is how do we deal with it. Most contracts have some provision in case of emergency or force majeure . Force Majeure is French for superior or irresistible force and such a clause is contained in many contracts stating that if a superior or irresistible force occurs then the parties are not held to the terms of the contract and/or there is a provision to deal with how such a “force” will be handled.

For example, the AIA form A201-2007 contains a provision at Section 10.4 that states: “In an emergency affecting safety of persons or property, the Contractor shall act, at the Contractor’s discretion, to prevent threatened damage, injury or loss. Additional compensation or extension of time claimed by the Contractor on account of an emergency shall be determined as provided in Article 15 [Claims] and Article 7 [Changes in the Work].”

Some contracts contain a clause that if because of an act of war, terrorism, act of God etc. the work can not be performed the party is excused from the nonperformance until such condition is alleviated and if not in a reasonable time the party is excused from the contract.

The clearer the terms of the contract provision the easier it is to interpret when trouble happens on a project and believe me it will.