Hatmet Ltd V Herbert
Technology and Construction Court
Her Honour Judge Frances Kirkham
18th November 2005
The sub-sub-contractor was concerned with the installation of lifts and instructed by the contractor to create a mock-up of a ceiling for the lift cars, which the contractor accepted. The sub-contractor asked the sub-sub-contractor to provide a quotation for ceilings to the 18 lift cars, said that as the sub-sub-contractor had made a mock-up, there was no need for discussion of any technical issues, agreed with the sub-sub-contractor’s quoted price for each car, told the sub-sub-contractor that it would have to revert to the contractor for its approval of the placing of the order on this basis, which it did obtain and sent the sub-sub-contractor a purchase order. The document sent by the sub-contractor was headed "purchase order" and stated supply and fit ceilings to 18 lift cabins as per the sub-sub-contractor’s quote, delivery in six weeks and price to be £1,005 per lift.
Judge Kirkham held that there was a simple contract in writing for the purposes of section 107 of the Construction Act by reason of there having been a sufficient exchange of written communications between the parties to amount to an agreement made by an exchange of communications in writing within the meaning of section 107(2)(b) or at the very least such as to evidence an agreement in writing within the meaning of section 107(2)(c). The following documents contained a sufficient definition of the scope of the work and certainty as to the price and the contract period, namely the sub-contractor’s purchase order and the sub-sub-contractor’s sketch drawing indicating the scope of the work to be undertaken, which drawing was in existence at the relevant time (even though it could not be found in time for the court hearing). The elements which the parties had discussed were present in these documents. It was not suggested by either party that terms were discussed or agreed between them orally which were not recorded in writing. There was no need and no requirement for the documents to spell out terms as to methodology or design of the installation methods.