Letters are the most important record documents for any construction project. These correspondences open a window on what happened in detail during each phase of the project.
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Therefore, they are relied upon during claims and arbitration, and as such, they should be drafted with care keeping it importance in mind. Here are 7 tips on how to write a better, more effective letter during a construction project contract administration:
Be concise, clear and to the pointLetters should be very clear, stating facts explicitly, along with any substantiation, and stating clearly what actions are required by the other party, along with any time frame for doing so. Notices should, ideally, be clearly identified as such, with reference to the clause(s) which they are sent under.
Don't take it personallyLike claims, letters should not be taken personally. It is official correspondence between two companies, and is bound to the contract.
Write for third partiesIn case of arbitration, or even claim review, letters and other contractual correspondence are usually studied by persons that are not very familiar with the project. Accordingly, letters should be structured and drafted in a way that avoid using project-specific terminology and abbreviations and allowing it to be used as a standalone document.
Include referencesI prefer to always refer to the intended part of any document referred to in the letter. For example, a sentence such as (your letter dated ... in which you stated that "insert quote from the letter") makes life easier for any one reading the letter, and avoids any ambiguity or mis-interpretation.
Subtantiate your statementsI take it as a rule to fully substantiate any statement made in a letter. For example
(The Contractor has mentioned that he will submit ...) is much weaker than
(The Contractor has mentioned in his letter dated ... that "quote the statement"). That way your letter is more detail and fact oriented, which is more effective than a subjective letter not properly substantiated.
Refer to the contractQuotes from the contract give your letter much more power. Further more, always mention the name of the clause/sub-clause you are mentioning, and in case of FIDIC or other standard contracts, mention whether this clause has been amended in the particular conditions or otherwise. Referring to "Sub-Clause 20.1 [Contractor's Claims]" is much better than referring to "Sub-Clause 20.1".
Proof-read the letter several times