Tue 15 Feb 2022

My contract does not contain a completion date. Is time at large?

"Time at large" is the expression used to cover a situation where there is no completion date for the works, or due to a series of events the completion date becomes impossible. 

This could arise where there is no mechanism within the contract to extend the completion date.  When time is "at large" the work needs to be completed within a reasonable time. What is reasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances of each contract. In order to avoid this situation, most construction contracts will set out a mechanism for adjusting the completion date, as was more fully discussed in our weeks 2, 3 and 4 blogs in this series.

It is important to bear in mind that when time becomes at large, the Employer does not have any entitlement to claim liquidated damages. It is therefore important to ensure that your contract makes sufficient provision for both the project timeline and for adjusting that timeline.  However, the absence of a completion date, or proper method for adjusting the completion date, does not prevent the Employer from seeking damages based on the Contractor's failure to complete the works within a reasonable time.

It is important to bear in mind that time being at large does not mean that there is no date by which the works must be completed. The contract does not become open-ended and the contractor is still obliged to complete the works. Time being at large simply means that the completion date is not specified or calculable by reference to the contract and must therefore be determined with reference to what is reasonable in the circumstances.

In our final blog in this series, we will consider record keeping in delay claims.  If you haven’t read our previous delay blogs, they can be found here.

Should you require assistance with any aspect of a construction contract, we have a large and experienced construction team who would be happy to discuss this with you

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