The Inconvenient Termination for Convenience

John Caravella Esq.
May 15, 2012 — 1,441 views  

Many construction contracts in New York make reference to how or why one or both parties are provided the right to terminate the agreement. One such typical form of termination, ‘Termination for Convenience’, may be provided.

Under New York construction law, an owner may be provided the right to terminate by contract, and courts will view this as an absolute right of the owner, and it is wholly enforceable.[1] Further, the owner is not required to act in good faith, and this right remains enforceable even in the Owner’s lack of good faith in its actions.

For a contractor working under a construction contract containing such a provision, the owner is not required to allow the contractor to complete the work, or pay its damages for termination,[2] which can be quite inconvenient to the contractor.

A typical termination for convenience clause provides the Owner the right to “ . . . abandon, postpone, or terminate the work or any part thereof, for any . . . reason, including the failure of the [contractor] and [owner] to agree upon the pricing of the work in accordance with [the contract] . . .” upon proper notice to the contractor.[3]

‘Convenience’ is defined as the ‘quality of being personally convenient or suitable or well adapted to one’s easy action or performance of functions[4]. And similarly, a parties' motives or motivations for such actions are irrelevant.

Recovery for a contractor under a typical termination for convenience clause in New York is generally limited to:

  • Actual costs incurred up to the effective date of termination;
  • Costs for settling and paying claims arising from the termination; and
  • Any rate of profit and overhead on the above allowed by contract.

Such a termination may prove costly and unexpected to any contractor working under such a contract without an understanding of the potential ramifications. Contractors are always encouraged in seeking legal opinion prior to entering any New York construction contracts with unfamiliar terms and conditions to avoid unintended consequences.

John Caravella Esq.

The Law Offices of John Caravella, P.C.

Mr. Caravella, a construction attorney admitted to practice in all NY and FL state courts, represents architects, contractors, sub-contractors, engineers & owners in all phases of construction. He has education & working experience in architecture.