Does a No-Damage-for-Delay Clause Also Preclude Acceleration Damages?

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Ted R. Gropman
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Christine Z. Fan

This article was originally published on December 3, 2019 on ConsensusDocs. It is reprinted here with permission.

Construction contracts often include a “no damage for delay” clause that denies a contractor the right to recover delay-related costs and limits the contractor’s remedy to an extension of time for noncontractor-caused delays to a project’s completion date. Depending on the nature of the delay and the jurisdiction where the project is located, the contractual prohibition against delay damages may well be enforceable. This article will explore whether an enforceable no-damage-for-delay clause is also a bar to recovery of “acceleration” damages, i.e., the costs incurred by the contractor in its attempt to overcome delays to the project’s completion date.

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Do No-Damage-for-Delay Clauses Bar Acceleration Claims?

Robert E. Heideck, Partner, & Kenneth A. Cushing, Associate, Pepper Hamilton LLP

Time is money in construction, and project delays can cause contractors to incur substantial additional costs. To avoid responsibility for paying these costs, project owners often include a no-damage-for-delay (NDFD) clause in the contract, where legally permitted.[1] An example of a typical NDFD clause reads as follows:

The Contractor agrees to make no claim for damages for delay in the performance of this contract occasioned by any act or omission to act of the [Owner] or any of its representatives, and agrees that any such claim shall be fully compensated for by an extension of time to complete performance of the work as provided herein.[2]

An NDFD clause may bar a contractor from recovering delay damages. But, in most states, the enforceability of NDFD clauses is also subject to exceptions.[3] As shown in the clause quoted above, NDFD clauses often provide that the exclusive remedy for delay is an extension of time. The issue is whether an NDFD clause, which provides a time extension as an exclusive remedy, also bars claims for acceleration. As explained below, there are several approaches to this issue. Continue reading “Do No-Damage-for-Delay Clauses Bar Acceleration Claims?”