There is no standard or prescribed contract and parties are free to enter into a contract of their choice as long as it complies with the basic common law requirements. However, in large construction projects, parties are increasingly adopting the Fédération Internationale des Ingénieurs-Conseils (FIDIC) Forms of Contract. Contracts which place both design and construction obligations upon contractors are not uncommon and reliance is placed in this regard on the FIDIC Yellow Book. Design-only contracts are not common. The arrangement known as management contracting, with one main managing contractor and with the construction work done by a series of package contractors, is very common in Zimbabwe.
1.2 Are there either any legally essential qualities needed to create a legally binding contract (e.g. in common law jurisdictions, offer, acceptance, consideration and intention to create legal relations), or any specific requirements which need to be included in a construction contract (e.g. provision for adjudication or any need for the contract to be evidenced in writing)?
The general concepts of offer and acceptance and the intention to create binding legal relations (animus contrahendi) are essential requirements to any valid contract in our jurisdiction. Generally, there is no requirement for contracts to be in written form. Verbal agreements are equally binding where the terms of same are clear or easily ascertainable. However, parties are generally advised to enter into written agreements, as it is easier to prove the terms in the event of disputes arising. The parties’ freedom to agree on the contractual terms is subject to certain statutes such as the Contractual Penalties Act [Chapter 8:04] and Consumer Contracts Act [Chapter 8:03], which impose consumer protectionism and thereby limit the freedom to contract. Although the general law of contract is Roman-Dutch Law, parties are free to prescribe a law applicable to their agreement (lex loci) as well as the dispute resolution mechanism. For instance, parties can agree to a resolution of disputes through arbitration proceedings to be held at a place of arbitration in another jurisdiction under agreed arbitration rules.