Whether the construction contract is of the traditional type or a more modern variation, there will be many other contracts to support the construction activities. This chapter concentrates on the supply of goods and related issues of quality, title and exclusion or limiting clauses in those contracts. As discussed in Chapter 1, a construction contract is one for the supply of work and material. Until 1954 it was important to distinguish between a contract for work and materials and one for the sale of goods. Up to that time section 4 of the Sale of Goods Act 1893 required written evidence or part-performance of contracts of £10 or more. The Law Reform (Enforcement of Contracts) Act 1954 repealed this section in contracts. There is still a practical difference between these categories of contracts. The distinction matters where title to goods used in the construction of buildings is disputed. This is reflected in the case of Dawber Williams v. Humberside CC (1979) 14 BLR 70. The subcontractor supplied roofing tiles under a supply and fix contract. The contractor had been paid for the tiles but had not in turn paid the subcontractor. Subsequently the contractor went bankrupt. The tiles were stored on-site but had not yet been fixed. The employer refused to allow the subcontractor access to the site in order to remove them. It later paid other contractors to fix the tiles. When the employer was sued by the subcontractor, it was held that it had no title to the tiles. In fixing them to the roof it was liable to the subcontractor in conversion (a tort) and had to pay for the value of goods used.
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