The Contract Administrator (CA) is responsible for administering the terms of the building contract between the parties. The CA will act as the agent of the employer in some circumstances but will be required to make impartial decisions in others . The obvious contradiction of this ‘dual’ role can give rise to difficult issues. The CA has two distinct functions, described as:
- an agency function.
- a decision-making function.
Despite the seemingly conflicting agency function, the decision-making function should always be impartial where parties to the building contract may have conflicting interests. The decision-making will reflect the professional expertise of the CA. A major benefit of this impartiality for the employer and contractor is that either party may challenge the decision of the CA. This can be distinguished from the role of employer’s agent under a ‘design and build’ contract where the employer would not normally be able to challenge the employer’s agent’s decisions.
It is the CA’s duty to administer the project in such a way that the correct contractual procedures and good administrative practices are followed, and that the life of the building contract from inception to completion is accurately and completely recorded. Where specific procedures do not exist the CA should carefully consider what activities ought to be undertaken and how they are communicated in order to ensure that the project is fairly and effectively administered. The conditions of contract are intended to regulate not only written matters that arise during the course of the building contract, but also set out the parties’ agreement as to how they will resolve potential disputes. The building contract conditions should not be regarded as an intention to seek conflict and the CA should recognise the part that can be played in achieving the completion of a project in a manner satisfactory to both the employer and the contractor. The proper administration of the building contract by the CA is one way in which this can be achieved.