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Sasol South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Murray & Roberts Limited (425/2020) [2021] ZASCA 94


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Sasol South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Murray & Roberts Limited (425/2020) [2021] ZASCA 94

Sasol South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Murray & Roberts Limited (425/2020) [2021] ZASCA 94

2nd July 2021


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Click here to read the full judgment on Saflii

[1]        On 15 March 2015 the appellant, Sasol South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Sasol) as an employer and the respondent, Murray & Roberts Limited (Murray & Roberts) as a contractor, concluded a construction contract in terms of which Murray & Roberts would render certain engineering and construction services to Sasol at its Secunda plant. The contract provided for the appointment of a project manager to perform certain functions under the contract and the mechanism to resolve the disputes that might arise between the parties. The dispute had to be notified and referred first to the adjudicator, appointed in terms of the adjudicator’s contract, for adjudication, whose decision was enforceable as a contractual obligation and had to be complied with, pending the referral to arbitration. A dissatisfied party could thereafter refer the dispute to arbitration. 


[2]        During the execution of the contract various disputes arose between the parties. These mainly related to the correctness of the assessments made by a project manager in respect of payments claimed by Murray & Roberts in terms of the contract. Murray & Roberts referred the disputed payments to the adjudicator. Ten disputes related to the application of what was termed PMC200. Murray and Roberts presented for payment timesheets signed off by Sasol daily which, it contended, bound Sasol contractually to make those payments. Sasol, in turn, took the view that PMC200 should be applied. This would mean that the hours worked were not dispositive of the entitlement to payment. They were only a record and the project manager was entitled to deduct costs arising from a failure to remove resources upon the request of the project manager pursuant to PMC200. The adjudicator rejected Murray & Roberts’ claims and confirmed the project manager’s assessments.

[3]        Dissatisfied with the outcome, Murray & Roberts referred the disputed payments (Disputes 1 and 2) to the arbitrator. No decision was made by the arbitrator on the other 8 disputes arising from the same issues because they had not yet arisen when Disputes 1 and 2 were referred to him. The arbitrator found in favour of Murray & Roberts. He held that the timesheets were contractually binding and that the project manager’s instruction (PMC200), pursuant to which the payments were disallowed, was not valid. Murray & Roberts requested the project manager to implement the terms of the award by adjusting payments in relation to all 10 disputes. He implemented the terms of the award for some of the disputes and refused to implement them for the rest, apparently on Sasol’s instruction.



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