Frequently Asked Questions


We are the project manager on an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option A (priced contract with activity schedule). A contractor has submitted a first programme for acceptance but we do not believe the date for planned completion shown on this programme is realistic. We know the contractor has lost several days work due to recent high winds preventing use of a crane. We are yet to receive notification of a compensation event regarding the weather, but expect one, and the completion date currently remains unchanged.


Our understanding is that this first programme needs to show a realistic picture of the project at the time it is issued, that is reflecting the impact to planned completion due to weather, or any other delay, regardless of whether a compensation event has been implemented or not. As it stands the programme reflects the situation as if no delay has been experienced and, in our view, this is not a sound basis for the management of the contract or assessment of any compensation events. We would welcome your thoughts on this and whether we would be justified in not accepting the programme as it stands.

The first programme should usually be produced at the very beginning of the project before any substantive work has been carried out, see clause 31.1.

You are nevertheless correct to say the first programme, and all subsequent ones, need to show a realistic picture of the project at the time it was issued. If it does not, you are entitled not to accept it (see the first or third bullet of clause 31.3). The first programme is not required to show delays because there is no previous programme these delays can be shown against. Subsequent revised programmes are required to show delays in any event (see clause 32.1).

If the first programme is showing work that has not yet been done as already carried out, clearly that is incorrect because it is simply not practicable. As such you are entitled not to accept it for a reason stated in the contract (see  first bullet of clause 31.3).

But you must be careful not to play games. If there is weather event for wind in your contract (there is not in the standard contract) and that weather event has been exceeded, the contractor is entitled to the delay it has caused, whether or not its programme is technically wrong. That is especially so when you consider that weather events cannot be finalised until the end of the month that they incurred in.

We suggest you have a discussion with the contractor and its planner before you decide to not accept the first programme. A good project manager needs to understand there is no such thing as a perfect programme, because it is all about predicting the future, which we all know is impossible. And that is especially so at the beginning of a contract, where almost everything is yet to be carried out. For that reason, it is better to look for reasons to accept it rather than reasons not to.

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