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Concurrent delay is a common problem in construction contracts. It arises when a delay in one area of work causes a delay in another. The result can be a cascading of delays, which normally means losses and disputes.
In a recent case involving the refurbishment of a cruise ship for Saga, the High Court had to consider the extent of the respective parties' liabilities when concurrent delay occurred.
The background was that engineering work had to be done to Saga's ship before the internal refurbishment could be completed. Various glitches occurred in the engineering work, which meant that this was finished two weeks behind schedule.
The shipyard that carried out the engineering work argued that Saga had contributed to the delay, because there were change orders issued for work to be done by Saga's contractors which had to be completed before the shipyard could continue its work. This, argued the shipyard, had held up progress on the engineering work until four days before the eventual completion of the work.
However, the Court found that, on the facts, the delays caused by the actions of the owners of the vessel had been subsumed within those which were the responsibility of the shipyard and therefore did not add to the delay. The delay attributable to the shipyard was already going to result in a later completion date and the extra work caused by the change orders did not extend that timeframe, despite the fact that some of that work was itself delayed.