The History of NEC

Find out about how the NEC suite of contracts started, and how it developed in to the favourite procurement solution used around the world.

Read the timeline below, or a more detailed account of NEC's evolution is available here. Alternatively, click to the right and watch our latest video on NEC's 30-year history.

The History of NEC
  • 1986

    Leading UK Project Management Consultant Martin Barnes was commissioned by the newly formed legal affairs panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to draft, ‘a radical new contract which would stimulate and not frustrate the application of good project management’. Hear more from Martin Barnes.
  • 1991

    A consultative draft of the first NEC contract, then known as the 'New Engineering Contract', was published, inviting feedback and collaboration in creating the final version.
  • 1993

    The final version of the first 'New Engineering Contract' was published. Early adopters included British Airports Authority, National Power and Scottish Hydroelectric in the UK and public electricity utility Eskom in South Africa.
  • 1995

    The second edition, called the NEC Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC), appeared two years later together with a new Professional Services Contract (PSC), Adjudicator's Contract (AC) and a back-to-back set of short forms and sub-contracts.
  • 2005

    A decade of extensive international use followed, culminating in the development and launch of the NEC3 Contract Suite in 2005. The new generation offered increased flexibility, better control of risks and greater ease of use. This included the launch of digital versions of the contract, reflecting the increasingly digital nature of construction design and management.

    The family also grew again, adding the NEC3 Term Service Contract (TSC) for maintenance work and the NEC3 Framework Contract (FC) for letting packages of work over time.
  • 2006

    In 2006, the Hong Kong government decided to trial the NEC3 on 30 pilot projects worth £1.2 billion to encourage collaborative working in the construction industry. The Fuk Man Road project was selected for the first NEC pilot project and the contract was awarded in 2009. The success of these led the Hong Kong government to adopt NEC3 as the default contract for its £7 billion a year public-sector works programme from 2015.

    You can find out more about NEC's history in Hong Kong by reading the 10 Year Commerative Booklet, published in 2019.
  • 2010

    Our suite was expanded further and joined in 2010 by the NEC3 Supply Contract (SC), the first set of standardised terms designed for local and international procurement of high-value goods and related services including design.
  • 2013

    The NEC3 suite was updated and enlarged to 39 documents in April 2013, including the NEC3 Professional Services Short Contract (PSSC) – which was selected by the Association for Project Management (APM) as its standard form for appointing project managers – and an enhanced set of guidance documents.

    The NEC3 suite has been endorsed by governments and industry worldwide and has an unrivalled track record for delivering projects on time and on budget – including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games venues.
  • 2017

    Twelve years on from the release of NEC3 and with several hundred billion pounds more procurement under its belt, the NEC4 Contract Suite – NEC’s next evolution – was launched in 2017. A new NEC4 Design Build and Operate Contract (DBOC) and NEC4 Alliance Contract (ALC) were added.

    The contracts are updated and streamlined to take into account consultation responses, user feedback, industry developments and emerging best practice, with improvements in flexibility, clarity and ease of administration.

    To read more, please download the NEC: Evolving to be the world’s favourite procurement suite brochure.
  • 2021

    The NEC4 suite was expanded with the addition of the NEC4 Facilities Management Contracts. Produced in partnership with the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM), these contracts and their supporting documents enable the facilities management sector to offer more integrated and consistent procurement strategies, add value to the supply chain and develop stronger, more collaborative, relationships and ways of working.
  • 2023

    NEC celebrates 30 years of collaborative contracting and successfully delivered projects. Learn how NEC became today's contract suite of choice in this latest history video.
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Our philosophy was to produce something which cured every known ill of traditional contracts. We did not have to compromise. Everything we thought would be a good idea went in – and we could decide what to put in solely on the basis of what would stimulate all those using it to manage their contribution well.

Dr Martin Barnes CBE, NEC creator

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How NEC can help

Find out about how the use of NEC Contracts can bring about commercial benefits, including saving costs, avoiding disputes and effective risk management.

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Events throughout the year will introduce new users to NEC and provide deep dives into key topics. There are also our big annual conferences held in the UK and Hong Kong.

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