Contracting in a Global World: Application of the “Time at Large” Principle


The time at large principle was created within the common law legal system, and contractors are familiar with its application under such doctrine. However, in today’s global world where many construction firms may conduct projects in countries that follows the civil law legal system, the application of the time at large principle remains unknown. This paper discusses the application of the time at large principle within the doctrine of the civil law systems. This research uses a two-step interdependent research methodology. First, the time at large principle is explained, and the circumstances supporting its success within the common law legal system are explained. Second, the authors critically analyzed how the time at large doctrine can still be applied and used in light of the French Civil Code and the Egyptian Civil Code because both form the base of the legal framework for many countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Accordingly, the authors determined the relevant legal principles on which the argument of time at large can be based in the civil law system. To this end, it is concluded that general legal principles in civil law jurisdictions could permit the court or tribunal a broad discretion to adjust the recoverability of damages or to vary the standards of performance under the contract. This is specifically applicable in circumstances where it has become unfair and unconscionable to allow the employer to enforce the contractor to comply with fixed completion dates and to recover liquidated damages due to preventative acts by the employer. This research would help contractors--who are conducting projects in countries that follow the civil law legal system--better understand how time could become at large based on the inoperability of the extension of time procedures.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Contractors and subcontractors; Frames; Contracts; Permits; Construction companies; Standards and codes; Jurisdiction; Africa; Central America; Middle East; South America; Europe

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1943-4162; 1943-4170

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2015