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Contractual Lessons From Construction Failures: Part Two

by Donald Charrett

Dr Donald Charrett (2009) V4 No 2 Construction Law International 19

This paper reviews the lessons that can be derived from the failures of several large steel box girder bridges during construction over 35 years ago. Although these failures had a predominantly “technical” cause in respect of inadequacies in the quality of design and/or construction, the focus of the paper is on the contractual and procedural aspects of project execution (particularly time, cost and scope of work), and the extent to which these may have been contributing factors to the collapse.

The lessons learned from the reports into these failures are not only timeless, but are still relevant today and are ignored or forgotten at our peril. The deaths resulting from these and other failures are a salutary reminder that failure to implement the appropriate contractual procedures and execute the works in compliance with the requirements of the contract can have much more serious consequences than a dispute over which party is liable to pay damages.

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