Don’t Lose Your Head By Ignoring Your Gut

“Plots have I laid . . . “

Don’t Lose Your Head by Ignoring Your Gut

By:  Gregory L. Shelton
Shelton Law Carolinas
(704) 940-9012

Act III, SCENE 1: Hotel Project, in the unfinished but dried-in lobby.

ENTER GLOUCESTER, the general contractor, and BUCKINGHAM, the Architect.


O have we suffered such delay, for the winter hath cursed our enterprise with its monster’s breath. The hotel will not open before the convention!


And the Owner, my patron, seeks recompense by bleeding you.  But now we must silence our tongues, your slothful tradesmen approach.


‘Tis fortunate that we have conferred with them before now, all but one.  And today will be his head undone.

I am not treacherous by nature, Buckingham.  I am a slave to my fear.  Fear of $2,000 per day in liquidated damages does turn the butterfly into a poisoning grub.  Steady, for here they come.

ENTER the subcontractors, BUCKINGHAM, DERBY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP OF ELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL, with others, and take their seats at a table


Pray thee and good welcome, gentlemen.  You interrupt our conference, and we do despair.


We have identified the cause of our slow season, and we meet today to decide his punishment.

I pray you all, what should be done to the subcontractor who has delayed this project?


The tender love I bear your grace, my lord,
Makes me most forward in this noble presence
To doom the offenders, whatsoever they be
I say, my lord, they have deserved termination.


Thou art the architect of my delay, thou art a traitor:
Off with his head! Now, by Saint Paul I swear,
I will not dine until I see the same.
Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done:
The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.


Woe, woe for England! not a whit for me;
For I, too fond, might have prevented this.
Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm;
But I disdain’d it, and did scorn to fly:
Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,
And startled, when he look’d upon the Tower,
As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house.

This was a set up. A conspiracy joined by everyone except our recently beheaded Hastings.

I hope William Shakespeare won’t mind the liberties I took with his play, Richard III.  Look what he’s telling us here.  Hastings’ friend, Lord Stanley, warned Hastings of Gloucester’s treachery. Hastings laughed it off. Hastings ignored other more subtle signs.  The oddly cheerful disposition of the Bishop of Ely. Even Hastings’ horse tried to warn him. Hastings ignored these warnings, preferring to remain blissfully unaware of Gloucester’s plot to blame Hastings for the delay.  Earlier in the play, Stanley entreated Hastings to attend a first council (meeting) “in the North” to stop the plot that unfolded at the second meeting (in the hotel lobby).  Hastings shrugged off Stanley’s warning:

Bid him not fear the separated councils
His honour and myself are at the one,
And at the other is my servant Catesby
Where nothing can proceed that toucheth us
Whereof I shall not have intelligence.

Hastings’ trust in Catesby was misplaced.

I hardly changed a word in that last exchange between Gloucester (our general contractor) and Hastings (our unfortunate subcontractor).  Shakespeare describes Hastings’ regret so well, there is no need to tamper with it.

Use all of your senses, even your sixth sense, to protect yourself. Attend meetings. Listen to what people say, and how they say it.  If you bury your head in the sand, you just might lose it.

About Gregory L. Shelton

Gregory L. Shelton is licensed to practice in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. He is a South Carolina circuit court mediator and North Carolina superior court mediator. Greg is the Managing Editor of the North Carolina Construction Law Deskbook, the definitive treatise on construction law in the state. He is also Florida board certified as a construction law specialist. He practices at Shelton Law Carolinas. SC: (803) 670-0024 NC: (704) 940-9012
Government Contracts, NC Law, SC Law , ,

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