Contract Law – Obiter Dicta

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Contract Law – Obiter Dicta

What is said by a court, by way of statements of law which go beyond the requirements of the specific case and which lay down a rule that is irrelevant or unnecessary for the purpose in hand, are called obiter dicta. “Obiter dicta” literally translates as “things said by the way.” This subject matter is relevant to procurement specialists seeking to understand contract law.

“This does not mean that the court must take at face value and without analysis everything that a claimant says in his statements before the court.”

This is an important comment simply because the judge will form an opinion about a witness, sometimes saying their evidence cannot be trusted.

“My sympathy is also tempered by the face that Mr Francis was candid enough to acknowledge that Hygrove has already made a sufficient profit out of his project.”

This was obviously an influence on the judges’ decision, but no change in law that obliges other judges to take profit into account when making a decision.

“It is necessary for the purposes of this judgement, and it may be impossible in any event, to define with precision the expression “project manager.”

The comment strikes at the heart of understanding Key Personnel job descriptions in a contract. Procurement should define the job scope, accountabilities and governance arrangements.

In summary, obiter dicta is relevant and of interest to procurement. It develops procurement acumen and gains respect.


Authors: Dr B Farrington & Mr T Roughley