PURPOSE : The study aims to investigate how modern methods of communication
within the construction industry have brought forth a new cognitive process that
participants in this industry should undertake when communicating.
DESIGN / METHODOLOGY / APPROACH : To achieve the objectives of the study, a literature
review was compiled on the legal status of electronic communication and what the
impact of the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act, Act 25 of 2002,
has had on electronic communication. A questionnaire was also distributed to quantity
surveyors to ascertain the level of knowledge with regard to the application of the ECT
FINDINGS : The study found that participants are not familiar with the ECT Act and that
it is highlyadvisable that parties to the agreement be made fully aware of how
communications should be dealt with during the duration of the contract.
Research limitations/implications – The study is restricted to the South African
construction industry and construction contracts and a small target population of
professional quantity surveyors practicing in the Gauteng Province. The results of the
research will be taken as representative of the entire country.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : In the modern era, notifications are increasingly being
communicated electronically, e.g. by electronic mail, linked computer networks, the
Internet and cellular phones with appropriate media capabilities. Participants in the built
environment must know how to correctly, effectively and legally, deal with this
ORIGINALITY / VALUE : Modern means of communication, including in particular electronic
emailing, demand that users properly appreciate whether the chosen method of
communication has a contractually binding and legally enforceable effect. Thus, in an
ever-changing built environment, participants should not only dedicate more time to
ensure that information conveyed does not have legal implications, except if so
intended, but that the information conveyed is unambiguous, grammatically correct and
formulated professionally. This article has value as it investigates how industry
stakeholders perceive the legal status of electronic communication and recommends
how it should be dealt with during the execution of the contract.