Our new series of blogs: standard form contracts explained

January 17th 2023

A perennial problem with the NEC4 engineering and construction contract (ECC) is the requirement for the works programme to be continually updated by the contractor and approved by the project manager. While the principle of updated programmes is difficult to challenge, in practice it is administratively burdensome. The programme provisions (and sometimes failure to comply with them) seems to be a frequent source of concern and can be seriously problematic for NEC users.

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A hidden risk: assignment of subcontracts on termination

November 17th 2020

Occasionally main contracts are terminated due to the main contractor’s default. For when this occurs, many construction contracts include a mechanism to deal with the termination process. A common provision in such mechanisms is the contractor is required to “assign any subcontracts” to the Employer. Legally this means assigning the benefit (i.e. the subcontractor’s obligation to properly perform the subcontract works) of the subcontract.

On the face of it, this assignment provision appears fairly innocuous. As the main contract has been terminated the Employer benefits from a direct relationship with the subcontractor. The contractor in turn has no further use for the subcontractor. So why not assign?

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Covid-19 and site closures: at whose risk?

March 30th 2020

As COVID-19 is taking a greater grip on the way we are living in the UK, it is becoming more inevitable that non-essential construction projects will be suspended. Even in the absence of a specific instruction from the Government, some developers and main contractors have already decided to cease site operations.

The most immediate question we are being asked (unsurprisingly) from all sectors of the supply chain, is about entitlement to extensions of time and loss and expense. The short (and perhaps irritatingly legal) answer to that question is it depends on the particular terms of the contract. There is no one size fits all shortcut. However, the JCT terms are relatively harmonised across the various forms of contract, as are NEC contracts. We have been looking at these a little more than usual recently, so thought it might be of interest to share some of the information with you. This note is restricted to the JCT terms. Keep your eyes open for our next instalment about the NEC terms.

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Test Tube

Covid-19: mitigating the impact

March 16th 2020

It appears from the daily news that over the next few months COVID-19 is likely to have a significant impact on the way we live our lives. There are suggestions of mass gatherings being stopped, schools closing, travel being restricted or stopped and many people becoming ill.

The construction industry is one which requires people to be present on site, fit enough to do whatever work they are doing. There is no option for site based operatives to work from home. Further, materials still need to be manufactured and eventually delivered to site.

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4 day week: a reality?

June 7th 2019

Most of the solicitors I know consider themselves privileged to be a part of this profession. Given the choice though, many say they would prefer to work fewer hours and dedicate more time to their families and leisure. So, is being a professional with a comfortable income compatible with a more balanced private life? Answer – Absolutely, yes it can be. I have achieved it. I work the equivalent of four days a week and I have increased my income at the same time – AND I have created a virtual practising platform at Berwick Law for others to get there too.

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