Authored by attorney Ned Nicholas
As you review the contract for the work that will occupy half your workforce for the next two years you see that there are provisions requiring your company to give notice within a specified period of time as a condition to receiving additional compensation for extra or to make a claim for additional compensation. What should you do to make sure that the required notices are provided and the claims are not lost?
You could file the notice requirements away in your trusty brain. That way when a notice-triggering situation arises you can reach into your memory and give the required notice. This is a common approach. And it’s the wrong approach.
The better approach involves at least five steps. First, make sure you educate your managers about the importance of required notices generally. Your lawyer can help in this effort by supplying one or more “horror story” court opinions (no notice, no recovery).
Second, carefully read the notice provisions in the contract. Understand exactly what is required and, if the notice provision is less than 100% clear, rewrite it so that it is 100% clear.
Third, make sure the notice provisions (and the rewritten 100% clear versions) are easily accessible. They can be saved to a “Notice” file. They can be posted key work areas (such as the construction trailer). Make it so finding them is never an issue.
Fourth, make everyone in your company who should know about the particular notice provisions aware of them. On a construction project this would include the project manager, the project superintendent and whoever is given the paperwork generating responsibility. The “be aware” education session should happen at a planning meeting at the start of the project. When a new manager joins the project that person should be informed about the notice requirements.
Finally, when notice is required, give it. Don’t wait until you know everything you can know about the issue. Give notice and then supplement with additional notices as new information becomes available.
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