Thomas G. Heintzman, O.C., Q.C., FCIArb

Evaluation Breached Tender Conditions: Alberta Queen’s Bench Court

You would think that the owner would get one thing right before issuing an invitation for tenders: its standard for evaluating the tenders. Yet, in Elan Construction Limited v South Fish Creek Recreational Association, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently found that the owner’s tender evaluation criteria were unfair and did not reflect the […]

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Penalty Clauses: Seven Principles Stated By The U.K. Supreme Court

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in Cavendish Square Holding BV v Talal El Makdessi is a must-read for anyone involved in contract law. In this decision of some 132 pages and 316 paragraphs, the U.K. Supreme Court provides an exhaustive analysis of the history and policy behind one of […]

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Can A Change To A Construction Contract Be Set Aside For Duress Or Coercion?

Building projects often give rise to heated discussions. When a change order is made in that sort of situation, can one party later say that the change order was made under duress or coercion? The Newfoundland Court of Appeal said Yes in the recent decision in Hickey’s Building Supplies Ltd. v. Sheppard. Background Facts This […]

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Can General Damages Be Awarded For The Breach Of A Building Contract?

Generally speaking, damages for a non-financial loss are not awarded for the breach of a business contract. That is because those sorts of damages are not foreseeable. The breach of a business contract may give rise to anxiety and distress, but that result is usually thought of as part of the vicissitudes and rough and […]

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Quebec Court of Appeal Awards Impact Damages

When a breach of a building contract occurs, the damages can be extensive because the breach can have an impact on the performance of other parts of the contract. For this reason, a unique aspect of construction disputes is the potential award of what are called “impact” costs or damages. In the recent decision of […]

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Owner Awarded Nominal Damages For Deficient Construction Not Affecting Market Value

What is the appropriate remedy when a contractor fails to build the building in accordance with the specifications but the deficiencies are not proven to affect the market value of the property? Should the answer to that question depend on the sort of building being constructed: a home as opposed to an office building? Should […]

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The Supreme Court Of Canada Avoids The Open Windows Issue

In my last article, I dealt with the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Bhasin v. Hrynew. In that decision, the Supreme Court of Canada established two fundamental principles for the Canadian common law of contract: First, that the parties are under a general obligation to perform contracts in good faith; and […]

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Contracts Must Be Honestly Performed Says The Supreme Court of Canada

In its recent decision in Bhasin v. Hrynew, the Supreme Court of Canada has established two fundamental principles for the Canadian common law of contract. First, parties are under a general obligation to perform contracts in good faith. Second, the parties have a duty to act honestly in the performance of contracts. These contractual obligations can […]

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When Is A Consultant Liable To A Contractor For Subsurface Information In Tender Documents?

One of the difficult issues in construction law is the duty owed, if any, by the owner’s consultant to the contractor. In particular, does the consultant owe any such duty in respect of subsurface conditions? In North Pacific Roadbuilders Ltd. v. Aecom Canada Ltd., the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench recently held that it did. […]

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