As in many other sectors, the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has thrown the UK construction industry into disarray. Unlike most other sectors, however, some of this disarray is the result of a lack of clarity over whether construction sites should remain open or closed.
Repetitive, impractical and often contradictory advice has been given to the industry and its clients. Furthermore in the UK, some guidance is being issued by the Construction Leadership Council, the status and authority of which appears to be unclear to many in the industry.
Confronted with the current emergency – the like of which is unknown to most NEC users – it is inevitable that everybody has started diving into the small print of their contracts. On the assumption that work is continuing, this is where the pro-active approach of the NEC risk-management provisions come into their own.
Supply chain issues
Early warnings, the early warning register and early warning meetings (conducted in a way that is safe for all) will, no doubt, be used to their fullest extent at this time. But as always, problems are more likely to be experienced first and foremost within the supply chain.
And, most important of all, are all the health and safety risks associated with the continuance of work at this time being addressed? These are all vital issues to be considered through NEC risk-management processes.
Openness and honesty
One other matter − keep in mind clause 10.2. As we all know, all NEC parties are obliged to conduct their interaction and communications on the basis of, ‘mutual trust and co-operation’. Openness and honesty facilitate positive solutions in this very difficult climate, which in turn will help to minimise disputes.
The last thing we want to see, once some level of normality is achieved, is all our time, effort and resources being diverted to addressing myriad disputes. This would simply heap misery upon misery for the industry.
Written by Rudi Klein, NEC Users' Group President
Advice from NEC on managing your contracts through the Covid-19 crisis