Inscribed over the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court are the words “Equal Justice Under Law.” It’s a reminder that judicial decisions should be just. That doesn’t necessarily mean fair.
In Aspic Engineering and Construction Company v. ECC Centcom Constructors, LLC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Case No. 17-16510 (January 28, 2019), the 9th Circuit overturned an arbitration decision in favor of a local Afghani subcontractor seeking termination costs after it was terminated for convenience by a U.S.-based general contractor. This, despite the arbitrator’s finding that the subcontract was “clearly drafted to give every advantage to” the general contractor, that the local Afghani subcontractor’s “experience with government contracting [was] not nearly as extensive as that of” the general contractor, and “that the normal business practices and customs of subcontractors in Afghanistan were more ‘primitive’ than those of U.S. subcontractors experienced with U.S. Government work.”
Local Afghani subcontractor Aspic Engineering and Construction Company was awarded two subcontracts by ECC Centcom Constructors, the general contractor, on two projects in Afghanistan overseen by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The first subcontract involved construction of various buildings in the Badghis province of Afghanistan. The second subcontract involved the construction various buildings Sheberghan province of Afghanistan. Both subcontracts included clauses from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which were incorporated by reference, and included flow-down provisions obligating Aspic to ECC in the same manner that ECC was obligated to the U.S. government.
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