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By Chantal Fink on August 10, 2018 at 12:15 PM

Steel rods on a dock ready to be loaded for transportThe United States’ recent imposition of a 25 percent tariff on imported steel has been problematic for contractors and subcontractors alike. The increased cost of steel means increased costs on projects, and in many occasions, on projects for which parties have already entered into contracts. In fact, benchmark U.S. steel prices have risen almost 40 percent since the beginning of the year, according to an Engineering News-Record report. In these situations, can a contractor or subcontractor find relief from additional costs in the force majeure clause of their contract? While Missouri courts have not addressed the relationship between increases caused by tariffs and force majeure clauses, extra-jurisdictional courts have offered some guidance on how tariffs could be treated under such a clause.

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By Michael Wilson on February 22, 2018 at 1:23 PM

Man holding a watch on top of a stack of papers, showing time passingThe author has practiced construction law for nearly 40 years and continues to be amazed or disappointed, as the case may be, by the frequency of one type of problem: Non-compliance with what are usually simple contract terms for giving notice of a claim for additional compensation, damages or time.

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By Michael Wilson on February 6, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Businessman looking through documents with a magnifying glassMany legal battles in the construction industry revolve around contract interpretation disputes. Care in contract drafting is a valuable way to avoid disputes.

A fundamental principle of contract interpretation is to ascertain and give effect to the parties’ objectively expressed intent. What a party was trying to say, without accurately expressing it, does not count. Contract terms are usually given their ordinary (i.e., dictionary) meaning unless the contract specially defines them or the industry has adopted a special meaning known to both parties.

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