Issues in establishing blame in disrupted projects

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Projects subjected to significant cost overruns that occur from disruptions and delays can often result in either the contractor or the employer making a claim against the other party. Claims are for very large sums of money and so the process of establishing blame is a serious matter and can be extremely complex. In this paper we highlight one specific issue - unravelling the interaction between disruptions - that makes establishing blame particularly problematic. Although the issue has been recognised by academics, guidance for practice has not fully acknowledged. The paper uses a simple example to illustrate the nature and significance of the issue of analysing the impact of one disruption on another. The Society for Construction Law recently launched the 2nd Edition of their Protocol that provides "practical and principled guidance on proportionate measures for dealing with delay and disruption issues that can be applied in relation to all projects, regardless of complexity or scale". The Protocol is likely to be influential in helping deal with disputes. However the Protocol provides guidance, particularly in relation to simulation modelling, that means it is likely that mis-attribution of blame will occur. We suggest a revised wording that might alleviate this concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalConstruction Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Sept 2019


  • projects
  • construction
  • disruptions


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