As COVID19 continues to impact the construction industry in multiple dimensions, it is generating complex contractual discussions on our NEC contracts. The NEC are highlighting the importance of the pro-active approach of the NEC risk-management provisions.
The importance of the NEC risk-management approach cannot be over-stated but will be challenged more than ever when financial exposures start to drive behaviours. Further, the ethos of NEC's spirit of mutual trust and co-operation will undoubtedly be banded during complex discussions when the outcome isn't going down the path of agreement.
The Early Warning process reinforces the foundations of a pro-active, collaborative team approach to mitigate and/or resolve the delivery solution during this unprecedented event - but this is the first and easiest step on the contract COVID19 journey. The subsequent steps of contract debates associated with the COVID19 impact will be unique and complex for each project, particularly when determining where liability and risk resides; this will require the full spectrum of mutual trust and co-operation and an in-depth understanding of the NEC contract clauses including the bespoke Z clauses. It is during these contractual discussions, that it is vital that the NEC Project Managers continue just to administer the specific/bespoke contract requirements and not stray beyond their contractual authority, however this action will inevitable encourage the deep dive into the small print to support/justify a party's particular contract position.
The hope is that this unprecedented event will instil an in-depth understanding and acceptance of pro-active risk-management to achieve mutually and conclusive results/solutions when events impact on the time, cost and quality outputs of a project, although the reality may well be the reverse!
Covid-19: trying times for all NEC users 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 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.