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In international engineering practice, what is the difference between the contents of a bank guarantee and its effectiveness?

Author :Tianjin Bo Law Firm   Time :2019-01-04

In the international project, usually, there exists much difference of the geography, culture, language and legal circumstances. The Principals, Contractors, Sub-Contractors, Suppliers and other stakeholders tend to seek for some surety from third party-the bank to secure the counterparty’s performance. Bank guarantee is typically one having the most importance.

There are varieties of bank guarantees, such as bid bond, performance bond, down payment bond, detention bond and customs bond. A subtle difference in wording may lead to great violation in its meaning and effectiveness. Below, I’ll take one cases for writings in the irrevocable and unconditional bank for example to cast the light.”

Case Review

A company named Power Gas Company (referred to as Party A), desirous of a professional engineering company to provide design service for its project, engaged with a well-known company named Great Designer Group (referred to as Party B). As per the agreement between them, Party B “shall provide a Performance Security in the form of “performance bond” in the amount of 5% of the Subcontract Price. And it shall be guaranteed and undertaken irrevocably and unconditionally in same currency of Subcontract Price.” When the draft form of guarantee is sent to Party B for check, Party B propose that a clause should be added that: “If the performance bond is presented to the bank for payment in case of any breach, the Contractor shall be informed at least 10 days ahead”, and Party A agreed to add this clause because they thought it’s reasonable. 

It turned out that Party B failed to duly fulfill its obligations in compliance with the agreement, and Party A presented the performance bond to the bank asking for the guaranteed compensation. But the bank rejected Party A’s claims on the ground that an unconditional bank guarantee shouldn’t be furnished with any conditions and would become an conditional bank guarantee if any conditions were included. 


Construction guarantees typically take one of the two forms, namely an on-demand or call guarantee, which is unconditional, and a suretyship guarantee, which is conditional. The right of the holder and the obligations of the guarantor under these two guarantee differ:

In on-demand guarantees, the guarantor takes the first primary obligations, equivalent to an indemnity to the Employer.The guarantees operate independently of the degree of performance or non-performance of the principal contract. They are effectively the equivalent of a promissory note payable on demand. But there is any conditions taken into the guarantee, then the effect of the on-demand payment and dependence may change.

Suretyship guarantees are conditional on a particular event(or events), commonly on the satisfactory performance of the contractor. These guarantees are accessory to the principal agreement, and there can be no obligation where the principal obligation they refer to is not valid or effective.

Mr.Wang Jingzhan: Master of Laws, an attorney from Tianjin Bozhuan Law Firm.

He has ever pursued his legal career and worked for a law court, Tianjin Yifa law Firm, Tianjin Blessing Law Firm, CPP overseas branch and BGP Marine. Now, he is practicing law as an attorney in Tianjin Bozhuan Law Firm, his primary area of practice as following: International Trade, International Project, Transnational Investment and M&A, Marine Disputes, Business Fraud, Foreign-related Intellectual Property and etc. 

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