RHTLaw Asia Building & Construction Law Annual Review 2020

2020 has been an eventful and life changing year and it seems we may never go back to the way of working and living pre-COVID-19.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government came up with numerous reliefs to help maintain the status quo and keep the construction industry on an even keel. These reliefs were contained in the COVID-19 Temporary Measures Act (COTMA) and various assistance programmes by the Building and Construction Authority and Ministry of Manpower. They go a long way but because of the slow resumption of work at construction sites, most projects suffer from a lack of time and money. It is anticipated that if the Prescribed Period under COTMA is not extended beyond 30 September 2021 for construction and supply contracts, we will see an avalanche of services of Notices of Relief before expiry.

In this issue, we set out a summary of the main reliefs provided to the construction and supply industry under COTMA. Although this is a review of 2020, as a matter of practicality, we have endeavoured to state the position under COTMA as at 18 June 2021.

Based on feedback from clients, one of the main questions is, what is the interplay between the reliefs provided under contract and those under COTMA. We will cover these aspects in a webinar to be conducted in the second half of this year. If you are interested in attending our webinars, please drop us an email at conrad.campos@rhtlawasia.com or edna.lee@rhtlawasia.com.

Another main segment of this review are the cases relating to the Security of Payment Act (SOPA). It was thought that with the amendments to SOPA coming into force with effect from 15 December 2019, we should see a gradual reduction of such cases with the clarification brought about by the amendments. However, the amendments appear to have brought about its own issues, for example, in relation to bringing claims for damages, loss and expenses which are not certified under the contract or agreed by the parties. However, the cases in 2020 have gone some way to clarifying the relationship between SOPA and contract terms.

Last but not least, in the third segment, we cover all the more significant cases that occurred during 2020 in the High Court or Court of Appeal. The 2020 cases throw light on and confirm principles relating to variations, defects and performance bonds.

In due course, we will also be conducting a round table discussion on some of the key issues raised by the cases of 2020. If you would like to register your interest in participating in the discussion, please feel free to reach out to us here. We hope you will join us in the discussion.

We are looking forward to the full resumption of work and life activities and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions soon. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are hopeful that this will take place sooner rather than later.

Get in touch with our Building, Construction & Projects Team

Conrad Campos

Partner and Head of Building, Construction & Projects Industry Group

Sandra Han

Partner and Deputy Head of Building, Construction & Projects Industry Group

Erwan Barre

Partner (Foreign Lawyer)