The ascertainment of claims for delay and disruption
This thesis examines the mechanics of claim ascertainment and is primarily based on research carried out on the records maintained by the contract claims section of an abolished metropolitan authority. The hypothesis that claims are often exaggerated and give no guide to the actual costs incurred is explored using data from 1,141 claim records. This examination shows that there was no correlation between the sums claimed and the eventual settlements. The main head of claim are examined using actual claims, ascertainments and case law. Methods of presentation and ascertainment are illustrated using extracts from sixty claim files. This examination demonstrates that many claims are based on estimates of resources and costs rather than actual records. Also, it appears common for supervising officers to assess claims rather than carry ot detailed ascertainment. The ex-metropolitan authority's contract claims section's procedure, which was based on the examination of contractors' actuall account records, is critically examined. From this examination it is clear that both accountancy and and estimating skills are required for the proper ascertainment of contractors' claims and it is suggested that these disciplines should be included in training courses or programmes of continuing education. At the start of this research I considered that claims could be ascertained with reasonable certainty. However, movements in the law, which have legitimised new heads of claim and allowed a more generalised approach to the ascertainment of others, have made the ascertainment of some heads of claim extremely difficult and sometimes virtually impossible. There are some indications that a reversal of this movement in the law, which has discouraged strict ascertainment, may be underway. Recommendations to control claims, including possible changes to conditions of contract, are made. Recently some of these proposals have been put into practice by various client organisations who appear to have come to similar conclusions. It is recommended that the main institutions should set up working parties to formulate and publicise the actual mechanics to be used for ascertainment. It is also suggested that major clients should combine and endeavour to standardise procedures to reduce the incidence of claims and adopt a unified system for ascertainment. Where it is considered that proper ascertainment is impractical it is suggested that an alternative approach, which bases reimbursement on a predetermined weekly sum inserted in the contractor's tender, might be adopted.