Where do you stand this Christmas?

Yes – It’s all pun and games until someone misses a deadline.

Besides the standard non-business days (public holidays, Saturday and Sunday), BIFA imposes a ‘Christmas blackout’ period starting from 22 December up to and including 10 January which may affect your rights and remedies under a construction contract.

A bit like Christmas blackouts in North Queensland, despite happening every year, they still catch people unaware and have the distinct possibility of ruining Christmas.

What Can You Do?

Parties should not rely on their office closing as putting a hold on statutory and contractual requirements, or acting a shield against them. Critical times for notices and claims under a Contract can still come and go, even if the relevant address or email account is not being monitored.

In preparation for the Christmas blackout, parties to construction contracts to which the BIFA applies, should:

  1. Check whether their contract makes allowances for the Christmas blackout period or not. Ordinarily this will be contained within the definition of business day, but may vary from contract to contract and may be contained elsewhere (or not at all); and
  2. Make a note of any significant milestones or due dates which might occur during this time which will require you to do, or respond, to something as well as any documents, sign-off, or certification required from third parties. Due to the time sensitive nature of construction contracts, it can often be fatal, or significantly detrimental, when dates and milestones are missed, and the Christmas period creates a perfect storm for these things to occur without realising. This can include times and dates to:
    • Make or respond to a Payment Claim within the required time.
    • Respond to a request for a variation.
    • Make a request for an extension of time or for delay damages (or both).

The Home Alone Approach (Tactically)

A bit like Kevin McCallister, parties may also wish to approach the Christmas period tactically, particularly where a party is aware that the notice or claim is likely to be disputed. For example, if a party is lawfully able to give an adjudication application on either side of the Christmas period, they may choose to commence adjudication after the Christmas Period to allow them further time to prepare evidence and submissions that they may require.

Watch for Dates

As Christmas fast approaches, WGC would like to offer a friendly reminder to keep an eye out for deadlines, payment periods, and due dates this festive season.

If you would like to know more, or if you need assistance in a residential or commercial construction matter, please contact us on 4046 1111 today.