Oh dear, what is going on in Game of Thrones (GoT)? The series was nearly complete with only two episodes left but now events (and characters) seem to be in disarray.

As I watched the latest instalment the only thing that came to mind was that of a client calling me to say how, after many years of excellent work, the building contractor and his subbies were rushing about site in a frantic attempt to get things finished. As a result, the quality of workmanship was falling and mistakes were being made. Indeed, some items of work that had been completed were now being damaged in the frantic attempt to get everything finished in time. Some refer to such activity as 'botching'. Quite rightly the client asks, 'what can I do? Can I sack the building contractor?'.

What to do?

I usually advise the client not to sack the building contractor, not least because without some further justification 'botching' is not going to be grounds for terminating the contractor's employment. That said, some building contracts are amended by legal boffins to include an express right for the client to terminate the building contract 'at will' and without giving reasons. Even so, sacking the building contractor is a draconian step to take and can be a risky one too because it could start an acrimonious and expensive legal dispute.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the client is not Daenerys Targaryen and the owner of a fire breathing dragon, one option to bring such botching activity to an end is to:

(a) accept the Works as having achieved practical completion (PC) even if they are not technically complete (see my recent post on what 'practical completion' means). Most building contractors will, for various reasons, be only too pleased to get their hands on a PC certificate. Indeed, you may be able to issue a 'qualified' PC certificate, i.e. one containing a list of outstanding items of work or 'snags', even if the building contract does not permit this (which they usually don't). Again, most building contractors will agree to a qualified PC certificate for the same reasons, i.e. it will, amongst other things, release part of the retention monies and give the building contractor relief against liquidated damages being levied; and

(b) thereafter, make use of the standard provisions in the building contracts published by the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) that allow the client to accept defects in return for a deduction being made from the Contract Sum. Such a provision is pretty standard in the JCT suite of contracts, for example, see clause 2.10 of the Minor Works Building Contract 2016 (MW 2016). In other words, get someone else to fix the defect without being in a rush. In my experience, however, this standard JCT provision is rarely used (or even considered) by clients save when they are advised that it exists.

It might cost a bit more

Of course, the client may end up paying a bit more to get the defects corrected by a different building contractor but that is likely to be a small price to pay compared to the alternative, namely a good job made bad by botching. In any case, it is always easier to make a deduction from monies that might otherwise be due than it is to pay money over only then to have to ask for an over-payment to be repaid.

Other options?

Other options do exist which, in return for a House Lannister promise of payment, can be explained. That said, after series 8, episode 5 there are not be many Lannister's left.