Arbicon ADR Ltd

Contractor and Sub-Contractor QS Services

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Managing Directors

In addition to being a PQS, Arbicon are dynamic as they are also a Contracto's QS. Irrespective of size, Arbicon provide commercial QS services to both Main Contractors and Sub-Contractors. The services we provide can be divided into two areas, non-contentious project QS services and dispute resolution.

Project QS Services

It is a fact that the failure of many construction firms or construction projects commercially is due to a lack of investment in QS management and commercial expertise in the legal working of construction contracts.

Many Contractors work on a "wing and prayer" basis, which is guaranteed to end in disaster. When a construction firm grows and takes on bigger projects and deals with new Clients who are streetwise it is time to invest in professional Quantity Surveying support.

Arbicon are retained by numerous growing contractors where we effectively control the commercial department. All our Clients engaged in this arrangement have experienced improved cash flow and profit without disputes taking the benefit of not only Arbicon's QS skills but negotiation of contracts and the proper and effective use of document management. (See our section on Document Management and the Case Study below).

Be Prepared before you start

If you are the Main Contractor and being pressured to sign a large contract document and are not sure - Stop! We will evaluate the Contract and help negotiate terms as required.

If you are a Sub-Contractor it is often the moments before you start work that are crucial. If you have been served with a Sub-Contract order or a copy of pre-let minutes - Stop! We will evaluate the terms and recommend a counter-offer starting work. Be clear on your rights!

Ideally, you should incorporate your own terms, which Arbicon can help with by way of counter-offer or negotiation. What is agreed in the contract is crucial to commercial risk.

Whether you are a Main Contractor or Sub-Contractor we can provide all or part services to suit your requirements including in brief:

Scope of Services

  • Estimating and tendering for works
  • Establishing budgets
  • Cash flow forecasting
  • Reviewing, amending, negotiating and agreeing terms of:
    1. Construction Contracts
    2. Letters of Intent
    3. Warranties
    4. Bonds
    5. Guarantees
    6. Design Implications
    7. Condition Precedents
    8. Retentions
    9. Liquidation Damages
    10. Discounts
    11. Programmes/time clauses
  • Drafting bespoke terms and conditions for main contracts and subcontracts
  • Advice on payment clauses preferred including:
    1. Supplement the labour clauses (extra labour contra charges)
    2. Insolvency of the Employer clauses (Payment stops if Employer goes bust)
    3. Pay when paid/certified (these are illegal)
    4. Set off clauses
    5. Interest and Debt Recovery Costs for Late Payment
    6. Termination rights
    7. Adjudication
  • Procurement of subcontractors
  • Financial management and administration of contracts with subcontractors and clients
  • Understanding the preparation, valuation, issuing, and agreement of:
    1. Advance payments
    2. Interim valuations
    3. Final Accounts
    4. Variations
    5. Loss and Expense Claims
  • Undertaking delay analysis and producing extension of time claims
  • Implementing change control procedures
  • Issuing contractual notices
  • Commercial representation in meeting from pre-contract through to final account
  • Advising upon and implementing solutions to remedy under valuation, late payment, or non-payment
  • Reporting financial progress against budget
  • Developing standard documentation for effective management of the works
  • Advising on methods to protect against claims
  • Dispute avoidance and resolution
  • Legal Advice
  • Insurance Liability


  • Highly experienced professional commercial department
  • Getting paid promptly
  • Maximising cash flow
  • Maximising profit
  • Maximising variation recovery
  • Improving your contractual rights
  • Improved record keeping and notification procedures to protect against onerous claims for damages and enhance your own claims for loss and expense
  • Protection against onerous contract terms and obligations

Contractor / Sub-Contractor Dispute Resolution

If you are a Main Contractor or Specialist Sub-Contractor in the Construction or Civil Engineering Industry you are in an industry with the highest incidence of disputes and conflicts.

Arbicon are leaders and amongst the most experienced claims consultants specialising in construction contract dispute resolution. Arbicon's particular expertise is in ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution), which is effectively all means to resolve a dispute without the need for the Court.

Construction projects are by their nature structured into what could be described as a "food chain" as the diagram below typically shows the flow of money and contracts:

If at any point in the chain mistakes or delays occur, any dispute runs through the chain. If the sub-contractor at the bottom of the chain does not perform and the Employer takes issue, the problem has to run through the whole chain! It is important therefore to ensure there are links between all contracts to effectively pass the problem on! However, it is easy to see that any shortfall in contract diligence could result in disaster, particularly if you are lower in the chain.

The money travelling down the chain is rather like the passing of a baton in a relay, where on each change a margin is retained by the baton holder. The opportunist, taking a cynical view, will create a dispute so as to retain more money. For example by retention or fault or in some cases without any good reason! Further examples of the chain problem is where a project is under-priced at the top of the chain, gets into delay, goes wrong and profitability evaporates. Blame is then cast on the lower chain members, the cash stops and a dispute crystallises. Another common mistake is sub-contracting work on a remeasure basis, when the upper contract is with design and fixed price. The consequences can be catastrophic.

It is easy to see where terms like "Subby Bashing" come from!

Dealing with Disputes

Typical disputes that Arbicon deal with regularly in this sphere are:

  • Under valuation of Payment Certificates
  • Contra charges imposed
  • Retention not paid out
  • Damages claims that are False or Illegal
  • Cash withheld to force ransom deals
  • Invoking onerous contract terms

Contractors/Sub-contractors often make matters worse for themselves by walking off-site which can without suspending the works properly mean repudiatory breach of contract occurs, which can lead to significant damages.

Contractors/Sub-contractors are often under the false belief that there is nothing that can be done to improve the position, when payment is not forthcoming and disputed this is not the case!

Arbicon can deal with difficult payment disputes. Bullies often do not know what they are doing particularly if they make it up!

For example, many Employers or Contractors still do not know or understand the New Construction Act rules on payment and often fall foul of the Default Payment Notice provisions, which gives the payee the right to a binding decision in the value of his payment application rather like a bounced cheque. See ISG Construction Ltd v Seevic College [2004] EWHC 4007 (TCC) . In that case the payee (ISG) applied for circa £1.1m and was awarded all the money as a lack of payment notices were served. ISG did not have to prove anything except a valid Default Payment Notice. The real value of the work was £315,450.47, but Seevic legally had to pay up the £1.1m.

Our typical approach to any dispute is to evaluate and set out your position to the other party. A discussion or exchange of views may then follow or a payment! If that fails in most cases we will more often than not recommend progressing the matter to adjudication (See the section on adjudication).

It is said that over £2bn a year is written off as bad debt by the industry, unless the paying party becomes insolvent, that should not happen if Arbicon are consulted. Even for the smallest of sums, if costs can be claimed we can pursue your case and make it commercially viable.

In conclusion, if you are growing, struggling to cope with claiming all your money or falling foul of onerous clauses, consider reaping the advantages of a new commercial department in your firm that protects your interests, improves relations, efficiency, cash flow and profit.