Contracts are a fact of life in the construction industry. They are essential for getting a project off the starting blocks, then ensuring work progresses to the benefit of all parties. At Cooper & Hall we understand the fine print of contracts at each and every stage of a project, which helps us get our clients the results they want.
We think the NEC Engineering and Construction Contract, developed and refined over more than 20 years, gives all those involved fair and transparent guidance on how to conduct themselves, from the employer onward through the contracting chain.
Unlike the old Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) Contract, which was entirely dependent upon the decision-making of the Engineer, the NEC3 expressly requires mutual trust and cooperation from both parties.
“If there are changes to either Key Dates, Prices or Works Information there are strict timetables for Early Warning Notices, Compensation Event Notifications and Compensation Event Quotations which make the process far less adversarial,” said C&H Director Graham Hall. “That doesn’t mean NEC3 is perfect! If a project is subject to a substantial number of changes then it can become administratively intensive.”
The best way to avoid delays and financial headaches is to produce a well-thought-out, well-designed and specified agreement at the outset. Added Graham: “Construction is all about getting the employer’s full brief and the right price, and ensuring that all of the attendant risks are identified and either owned or eliminated between the parties. The earlier Cooper & Hall are appointed, the better we can help our clients minimise the risk and improve the relationship with those people above and below in the supply chain.
“We know the best way to put together a contract to manage risk and we prepare a risk assessment schedule for every commission. We advise our clients to speak to us as early as they can – at tender stage if possible. It can avoid grief later on.”
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