Entry to heaven should not have to depend on clear mobile phones and strong thumbs

Wouldn’t you think by now that the crackly mobile phone, the lost signal, would be a thing of the past? Not so. My mobile wriggled. It was a past client. So past, that he was standing at the desk just outside the Pearly Gates. Next to him was the Keeper of the Keys. My client asked me “Why didn’t you tell me there was a condition precedent to getting into Heaven?” St Peter had just pointed out to him what the secret is to making his claim to a space on the other side. Fascinated, I asked what page is the condition precedent on? “New Testament, edition NEC 3 page . . . , and then it happened. Damn it, the line crackled, “Say again” said I. Page . . . damn it, more crackles. Here am I on the verge, the edge of learning, albeit hearsay, from a bloke standing next to St Peter what the condition precedent is to getting home when, oh hell, the line went dead.

But at least I had a clue. The condition precedent is in edition NEC 3. My thumb aches. Pages have been turned, read, and re-read. True, I found another condition precedent but that was only about making a claim under a building contract here on planet earth. Blow me down it says: “If the contractor does not notify a compensation event within eight weeks of becoming aware of the event, he is not entitled to a change in the prices, the completion date or a key date unless the project manager should have notified the event to the contractor but did not.”

There it is buried in the plethora of small print. Daft really. It’s like a secret key. Hardly any constructor knows it’s there but, wow, fail to spot it and out goes your claim. It’s a drop-dead clause, for in real life very few real construction people know their way around these forms of contract. Constructors are born to build. True, the hangers on, lawyers and claims experts are a dab-hand. Most likely my local vicar, priest, rabbi have a clue about which page the condition precedent is on. But come on all you contract drafters, life in the muck and bullets end of living isn’t spent thumbing bibles even if it is the NEC 3 version. Do me a favour. If there is ever such an important rule, term, trick in some book, contract document or what ever, flag the damn thing up in lights.

Put it on that board outside the site, in big red writing. You know what I mean – “Smoking Kills” sign. And do me another favour, get me a mobile phone that doesn’t crackle . . . or tell me in big red writing what that confounded page number is.