Job meeting minutes are frequently prepared by architects or owner’s representatives and distributed to contractors and subcontractors who dutifully accept them without much input or involvement.
Occasionally, the minutes will specifically provide that if there is no objection made within a short amount of time after distribution, all recipients will be presumed to be in agreement and the minutes will be presumed to be accurate. And even if the minutes do not contain such self-serving language, silence may be construed to mean agreement in the event of a later dispute.
Therefore, it is critical that any inaccurate or self-serving minutes be objected to – or clarified – within a reasonable period of time. The old adage “speak now or forever hold your peace” applies. Setting forth your input in the official project record is crucial.
If you have an opportunity to seize the initiative and prepare the project progress meeting minutes, you should do so. If the minutes are prepared by others, make sure they are accurate – and if not – corrected or clarified with your position by the time of the next job meeting.
Finally, while meeting minutes might not constitute the formal written notice of a claim or change order mandated by contract, be sure to note any factors or circumstances that might justify an equitable adjustment to the contract price or time. At a minimum, this will reduce the chances that others, potentially paying for the extra, complain later that it was unknown or a surprise to them.