NEC users will be well aware that public-sector NEC contracts are frequently heavily amended. Unfortunately these clauses can also be poorly drafted, ambiguous and cascade risk along the supply chain, undermining NEC’s collaborative ethos and adversely affecting programmes, costs and delivery.
The UK government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has therefore been working with public-sector procurement agency Crown Commercial Services (CCS) and NEC to develop a limited set of standard ‘boilerplate’ amendments for use on UK public-sector NEC contracts.
The aim of the carefully selected clauses is to improve current public-sector client behaviour surrounding NEC contract management and risk transfer. Throughout the exercise CCS has also worked with industry representative group BuildUK to align the new clauses where possible with the group’s promotion of fair contract terms.
One of the first uses of the boilerplate clauses will be in the forthcoming CCS framework procurements for construction works (£30 billion), modular building (£360 million), and heat networks and electricity generation assets (£500 million), all of which are likely to involve NEC4 contracts. These frameworks will also promote the use of unamended standard contract forms where possible.
The other area IPA is continuing to focus on is an adoption of a ‘presumption in favour of offsite construction’ for transport, health, education, justice and defence projects by 2019. As I discussed in Issue 91, IPA is working with relevant government departments and industry to define how to enable a larger proportion of the built environment to be delivered using offsite manufacturing. The transformation is exciting, but it will require even greater collaboration across the supply chain and needs to take manufacturing as well as new construction technologies into consideration. It is therefore good to see the recently published NEC practice note on how NEC4 contracts can be used to support the use of offsite modular construction.
Written by David Hancock, NEC Users' Group Chair