Liquidated Damages To the Editor: In the March '96 Legal Column, Quenda Behler Story contrasts "time is of the essence" with liquidated damages to the point of emphasizing that you can't have it both ways. This characterization is incorrect. Two parties may stipulate in a contract that a certain amount shall be paid in case of default on a contract. This is known as liquidated damages, and in construction work it is usually related to time of completion. In order for liquidated damages to be enforceable, certain conditions must exist. The amount of liquidated damages must be reasonable, and it must be difficult to ascertain actual damages. The latter is usually the case when timely completion delays occupancy. Additionally, it has