Timing can be crucial when taking legal action, as one company recently found to its cost.
The company had hired a firm of builders to carry out some roofing and cladding works at a new factory.
A contract was agreed which stated that in the event of a dispute, no action could be taken after the expiry of a one-year period from when the builders last performed any services.
The work was completed by February 2009.
In July 2009, the factory owners complained of poor workmanship. In February 2010, the builders agreed to visit the site to assess what needed to be done and then carry out any work that was required.
The site inspection took place in March 2010.
However, the offer to carry out remedial work was not accepted and the builders were barred from the site. In December 2010, the factory owners began proceedings for damages for breach of contract.
The builders denied their work was below standard but added that in any case, it was more than a year since the contract had been completed and so the factory owners had left it too late to begin proceedings.
The owners argued that the site visit in March 2010 amounted to a performance of service and so they were entitled to take action.
The court, however, ruled in favour of the builders. It held that the site inspection was not a performance of service but merely part of negotiations designed to reach a settlement and avoid litigation.
The factory owners had therefore left it too late to bring their case.
Please contact our Commercial Team for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of contract law.