The work must be completed within the agreed time. It is a good idea to include a precise deadline for completing the work in a service contract. If no completion date has been agreed, the work must be completed within a reasonable time considering the nature and scope of the service. The factors considered when assessing a reasonable time period include the time it normally takes to perform the service in question and the information the company has provided when marketing the service.
In case of a delay, you have the right to
- withhold payment for the part of the work that is delayed until the work is completed
- demand that the work is completed
- cancel the contract
- receive compensation for losses
Right to withhold payment
You can withhold payment for the part of the work that is delayed until the work has been completed. You do not need to be able to estimate this amount accurately to the nearest euro, but it should be roughly equal to the share of work that has been delayed. However, you cannot usually withhold the full price of the contract.
Right to demand that the contract is fulfilled
If the work is delayed, you can normally demand that the company finishes it. You must specifically demand that they complete the work. If you delay unreasonably in doing so, you lose your right to demand that the contract is fulfilled.
The company has an obligation to complete the work unless it is prevented from completing it by a force majeure. Examples of a force majeure are a strike or a small entrepreneur’s serious illness.
Right to cancel the contract
You can cancel the contract if the work is delayed significantly. A short delay does not give you the right to cancel the contract.
If there is a delay, you can give the company a reasonable amount of additional time to complete the work. The length of the additional time period depends on the nature and scope of the work. If the company still does not complete the work during the additional time period you have allowed them, you may cancel the contract.
If you cancel the contract, you must pay the company for the work they have already done. If the work that has been completed has no value for you, you do not have to pay for it. If you cancel the contract, you have the right to obtain from the company free of charge any instructions and drawings necessary for completing the work.
You should note that the legislation does not recognise a price reduction as a means of compensating for a delay.
Compensation for financial losses
If work is delayed, you have a right to compensation for losses. This compensation may be either
- standard compensation set down in the contract, or
- compensation for the actual costs you have had to pay.
You do not have to show proof of any actual losses to receive the standard compensation. You should note that you cannot receive both types of compensation. If your costs exceed the standard compensation for delay set down in the contract, you can claim compensation for your actual costs.
If the delay was caused by a force majeure affecting the company, you do not have a right to compensation.