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3. Prof. Wyatts Presentation Rules Beware the smile rule
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7. Note This presentation is provided with the understanding that the presenter is not providing legal, accounting or other specific advice or professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is needed, the services of a relevant professional should be sought.
Adapted from the Declaration of Principles of the American Bar Association and the Committee of Publishers and Associations
8. Basic Tenets Govt is the Sovereign - lots of contracting power coupled with major responsibilities
T4C and Unilateral Directed Change Clauses
G.L. Christian Doctrine Incorporation by Operation of Law/Required Clause
T4C Foundational Historical/ Foundational Case Law is Federal
9. Balancing of Contractual Risks Fiduciary of Public Funds
Public Policy/Statutory/Regulatory Mandates
Govt Must Maintain the Integrity and Public Confidence in Procurement Process Assuring Competition to the Maximum Extent Practicable
10. Rationale for Govt Need of the Termination for Convenience Power Inherent Sovereignty/Fiduciary of Public Funds
General Consensus of Case Law instructs that the Govt needs the T4C power to terminate contracts made obsolete by technological or other developments or rapid changes of war or at wars end in a nutshell some kind of change from the date of contract execution
11. History of T4C Power Historical Basis in Federal Law Famous Navy Battle Chesapeake Bay (Hampton Roads VA)
Monitor vs. Merrimac (CSS Virginia) Wooden frigates Congress and Cumberland were lost. Ironclad warship technology revolution prevailed.
12. Monitor vs. Merrimack
13. T4C General Truths Ultimate Oxymoron/Legal Breach of Contract
Formula for Contractor Payment
Common Theme is Contractor does NOT Receive unearned anticipatory profit normal breach of contract damages
Gets paid for the following if AAR:
Work accepted (contract price) (Curve?)
Costs incurred including reasonable profit if would have made profit on completed contract
Winding down and settlement expenses (including legal and accounting in preparing T4C settlement proposal)
Govt Procurement Agencies are Presumed to Act in Good Faith - contrary B/P is clear and convincing
14. More General Truths Govt Can T4C in Whole or in Part
Must be in Govts Interest (Best)
Must Give T4C Notice Although Case Law Recognizes Power of Constructive T4C
Breach of Contract Damages (Unearned Anticipatory Profit) if T4C Wrongful
See FAR 52.249-2 (Fixed Price Supply) and KY T4C Clause - 200 KAR 5:312 2
15. The Struggle to Achieve an Equitable Contractual Balance Federal and State courts as well as Administrative Tribunals STRUGGLE with T4Cs so as to achieve balance in:
Protecting the Govts legitimate needs as a sovereign/fiduciary
Assuring that contractors contractual rights are protected and not subject to indiscriminate acts or abuse so as to invoke a fair yet meaningful limitation
16. Six Potential Challenges to a T4C Bad Faith
Breach of Implied Covenants of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (more objective)
Krygoski standard No Intent to Honor Contractual Commitments ie T4C does not justify post award price shopping solely to obtain a better deal.
Abuse of Discretion/Illegality
Illusory Promise Legal Scholars View
Changed Circumstances Torncello Rule and State Champion Cases
17. Bad Faith/Breach of Implied Covenants Almost impossible to prove bad faith due to overwhelming presumption that govt acts in good faith
Must prove subjective bad faith by clear and convincing evidence (case law interpretation of well nigh irrefragable proof
T4C clause does not define bad faith
Fair dealing covenant adds some objectivity
18. Abuse of Discretion/Illegality Krygoski cites four factors to determine abuse of discretion:
Reasonableness of decision;
Amount of discretion delegated to the terminating official; and
Arbitrary violation of relevant regulation or statute
Illegality renders contract void or reformed by operation of law
19. Illusory Promise Noted law professors/scholars (Williston, Corbin and Nash) and many judges have deemed that the indiscriminate exercise of the T4C power without restrictions amounts to an illusory promise
Does not constitute legally sufficient contractual consideration
Restatement of Contracts (2d) agrees
20. Illusory Promise Esteemed Law Professors Williston & Corbin Harvard Law Prof. Samuel Williston: [a]n agreement wherein one party reserves the right to cancel at his pleasure cannot create a contract the promisor may perform or not solely on the condition of his whim, his promise will not serve as consideration
Yale Law Prof. Arthur Corbin: [a] party [with T4C power] loses that power if commits such a breach as goes to the essence [of the bargain].
21. Prof. Nash and Restatement 2nd George Washington Law Prof. Ralph Nash: [a]n unlimited Govt. right to terminate raises serious questions as to whether the Govt. furnishes consideration in a contract with the [T4C] clause.
Restatement 2nd: [a] promiseis not consideration if the promisor reserves a choice of alternative performance unless the alternative performance would have been consideration if it alone had been bargained for
22. High Mark of T4Cs Unrestrained Colonial Metals decision high mark of federal governments T4C power
U.S. Ct of Claims allowed T4C to stand so that Navy could obtain a better post award price on copper from another contractor
Colonial Metals was highly criticized as an aberration in the precedents of the [ Ct. of Claims] because it allowed unrestricted post-contractual price shopping with T4C clause as an escape hatch.
23. Colonial Metals T4C Means Govt Never Loses NO LOSE situation for govt whether post award market price of items falls or rises
Inequitable effect puts contractors subject to a loss of the benefit of the sale when the market falls but being saddled with a loss when the cost of performing rises
24. Torncellos Change of Circumstances Standard Ct of Claims reversed Colonial Metals in Torncello
Declared that Govt cannot T4C simply to acquire a better bargain from another source.
Govt can only T4C if there exists a change in circumstances of the bargain, or in the expectations of the contracting parties occurring after contract award
25. Torncello - Federal Progeny No changed circumstances exist if the reason for the T4C was known or should have been known to the government before the contract was awarded
T4C clause will not act as a constructive shield to protect the govt from its decision to now engage an option considered but rejected before contracting Municipal Leasing Corp v. United States
26. Torncello Whittled Down In Krygoski Constr. Co, v. US, CAFC limited its prior Torncello pronouncements stating that Govt may not invoke the T4C clause to avoid breach of contract liability when it enters a contract with contractual obligations it does not intend to honor
Reaffirmed that Govt cannot T4C to acquire a better bargain from another source, which constitutes bad faith
Torncello was not expressly overruled; Krygoski used death by dicta declaration (legal debate as to why??? maybe couldnt be en banc)
27. Torncellos State Law ProgenyState Champion Cases Adopting Changed Circumstances
Successful state case law T4C challenges:
RAM Engineering v. University of Louisville
KY Attorney General Opinion Affirming RAM
Ry-Tan Const., Inc. v. Washington School Dist.
Arizona Towing v. State of Arizona
28. State Champion Cases Changed Circumstances Rule lives on in various state decisions
RAM Engineering v. University of Louisville Supreme Court of KY held that fairness and integrity of the states procurement system and the publics confidence demanded nothing less than requiring a substantial change in circumstances.
29. Kentucky (RAM) Adds Substantial The interest of fair treatment and public confidence in the government outweigh possible expenses on the public coffers, within the reasonable limits of a substantial change from the parties expectations.
If there is no good faith limitation set by a substantial change of circumstances, then the government's contracted-for promise becomes illusory
30. Best Interest of the Govt Mandates a Change of Circumstances [i]f we must presume that government officials act in good faith to contract in their best interest at the time of agreement, then a change of circumstances is necessary for the contract to no longer be in the government's best interest when terminating for convenience.
31. T4C Does Not Alleviate Govts Good Faith Duty Although the government may terminate contracts for convenience, that cannot supersede the good faith duty to do everything necessary to carry [the contract] out
RAM decision lead to historic Kentucky Attorney General Opinion
32. KY OAG 04-009 Request from KY Speaker of the House to the KY Attorney General concerning To what extent can the General Assembly modify, amend, alter or terminate contracts and what would be the consequences in terms of remedies available to the parties for such action by the General Assembly.
33. KY OAG (Cont) Citing RAM Engineering, the Attorney General concluded that the Commonwealth does not have unfettered discretion to terminate the contract for convenience. A change of circumstance must first be identified. Moreover, the nature of that change could seriously affect the Contractors ability to even meet its burden to prove the amount of compensation to which it is entitled under the terms of the contract.
34. Ry-Tan Const., Inc Ry-Tan Const., Inc. v. Washington School Dist , the AZ court of appeals held that when evaluating a termination for convenience, one cannot ignore hornbook law that a route of complete escape vitiates any other consideration furnished and is incompatible with the existence of a contract. ... [meaning that the ] application of a termination for convenience clause requires some kind of change from the circumstances of the bargain or in the expectations of the parties
35. Arizona Towing v. State of Arizona Different AZ Ct of Appeals likewise held states T4C of a services contract without changed circumstances constituted an abuse of discretion and breach of the Govt duty of good faith and fair dealing in its contractual performance and that such cancellation for convenience creates the impression that the contract was illusory.
36. Recommendations Changed circumstances standard is needed to keep T4Cs from going wild.
T4C power is arguably excessively broad, especially since case law allows constructive terminations despite Govt. failure to follow its own mandated contractual and regulatory requirements prior to exercising T4C powers
37. More Recommendations KY has judiciously recognized the proper T4C balance between the (1) presumption that Govt. officials act in good faith and (2) Gov't.s need to avoid paying breach of contract damages is to (3) require substantial change of circumstances that were not known or should have been known by the government.
38. More Recommendations Contractual clauses and regulatory provisions should be modified to include the substantial change of circumstances requirement as a condition precedent to Govt exercising its T4C power
Such language helps to assure integrity, fairness and maintaining contractor trust in the procurement process and enhancing competition.
39. ABA Section of Public Contract Law Termination for Convenience Project (Nov 15, 1997) Recommended changes to FARs termination provisions, which were approved by the Section. http://www.abanet.org/contract/admin/minutes/15nov97.html
Subcommittee was wrestling with Krygoskis restrictions on Torncellos change of circumstances standard as well as the difficulty in proving bad faith.
40. ABA Recommendation (Cont) Opening Paragraph:
An assertion by the contractor that the government when terminating for convenience or default has acted in bad faith shall be assessed objectively based upon standards applicable to private parties in commercial contracts. Among other things, this means that the government, whether knowingly or not, may not attempt to recapture an opportunity foreclosed at the time of contracting. (Emphasis added)
41. ABA Recommendation (Cont) (iv)Termination for convenience to reflect changes in, but not elimination of, the actual needs of the government is appropriate, unless the change arises under and can be addressed by one of the remedy granting clauses of the contract. (Emphasis added)
42. ABAs Two Big Points Tried to minimize difficulty in proving bad faith by eliminating subjective intent by asserting that bad faith shall be assess[ed] objectively based upon standards applicable to private parties in commercial contracts. (Emphasis added).
ABA astutely focused on changes thereby affirming Torncellos Changed Circumstances standard
43. ABA Recommendation Unanimously passed by the Public Contract Law Section
FAR Secretariat did not adopt it
44. Conclusion Changed Circumstances standard is the right compromise as other existing challenges to Govt. T4C power are difficult or well nigh impossible to prove.
When T4C power goes wild, it allows arbitrary contractual abuse which will discourage suppliers with a chilling effect upon competition
45. Final Word Courts must be ever vigilant in their struggle to achieve justice by not hesitating to prevent abuse of contractual rights and the bastardization of the sanctity of contracts
Adopting the changed circumstances standard is an excellent tool to assure maintain that just balance.
Ethics and integrity are two-way streets;
Even the King must play by his own rules!
46. Potential Quiz Question Describe one situation where case law expressly concurs that a T4C is not permissible?
47. QUIZ ANSWER T4C solely based on obtaining a post award better price from a different source
48. Questions? Thanks for your courtesy and attention
Prof. John B. Wyatt III J.D.
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
(951) 377-7439 FAX (909) 869-4353
Emails: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
49. References - Textual
6 Corbin On Contracts, section 1266 (1962)
Nash et al, Administration of Government Contracts, 4th Ed., Wolters Kluwer (CCH) 2006.
Williston, Contracts ? 105 (3d ed. 1957 and Supp 1979).
Restatement of Contracts (2d)
50. References (Cases) Colonial Metals v. U.S. 494 F. 2d 1355 (1974)
Torncello v. U.S., 331 Ct. Cl. 20; 681 F.2d 756 (1982)
Municipal Leasing Corp v. U.S. 7 Cl. Ct. 43 (1984)
Krygoski Constr. Co. v. U.S. 94 F. 3d 1537 (1996)
RAM Engg & Constr, Inc. v. University of Louisville, 127 SW 3d 579; (Ky Sup. Ct. 2003)
51. References (Cases Cont) Ry-Tan Const., Inc. v. Washington Elementary School Dist., No. 6, 208 Ariz. 379, 93 P. 3d 1095 (2004)
Arizona Towing Professionals, Inc. v. State of Arizona , 196 Ariz. 73, 993 P. 2d 1037 (1999)
52. References State AG Opinions OAG 04-009 (Oct 13, 2004) (KY State Attorney General Opinion) http://ag.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E4DED9EA-3EBC-4D8A-9DBD-DD6C929DBD2F/0/OAG04009.doc
53. ABA Materials AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, SECTION OF PUBLIC CONTRACT LAW, MINUTES of November 15, 1997 Council Meeting, http://www.abanet.org/contract/admin/minutes/15nov97.html