This research sought to establish whether the general acceptance that the common construction and engineering contracts as falling within the classification of the locatio conductio under South African law is correct. As the classification of a contract attracts specific essentialia and naturalia, and then too certain implied terms one example of an implied term that would have practical relevance is specifically investigated: The warranty against latent defects. Through this example I seek to demonstrate the relevance and importance of establishing what the classification of these contracts is, and its ensuing essentialia and naturalia.
The investigation commenced by firstly considering the classification of the common building, construction and engineering contracts, with reference to the South African publications of JBCC and GCC, as well as the internationally published FIDIC Silver Book, FIDIC Yellow Book, and FIDIC Red Book, as well as the NEC ECC Option A and Option B.
With alternate dispute resolution mechanisms, such as adjudication and arbitration, resulting in limited publications by way of case law and academic writing on the subject (specifically in South Africa), English law and German law were also consulted. It was established that, unfortunately, the classification of the common building, construction and engineering contracts under South African law is problematic: It does not fit the ordinary and previously accepted classifications, specifically that of the locatio conductio. This makes it questionable whether the warranty against latent defects could be, and should be, implied into any one of these contracts.
The recommendation, accordingly, is that it is crucial for the construction and engineering industry to carefully consider and develop the true and relevant essentialia and naturalia applicable to these contracts. Only then will there be certainly as to what may be implied into these contracts, and what will not so be implied. Until this is achieved, the parties to these contracts, in order to have certainty, must deal with aspects such as the warranty against latent defects by way of an explicit written term in the particular contract.