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Early Careers Group October Meeting Precis

Commercial Good Practices was the topic for October’s Early Careers Group (ECG) meeting, which was held 6 October 2020.

David Major, ECG Lead, opened the session with an introduction to the purpose of the ECG and how members can hear about the work of the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) before looking at the 2021 strategic goals, the latest news from the FPS and the feedback received from ECG questionnaire post September’s event. The planned content of future ECG events was also discussed.

Following on from David’s introduction, the session’s guest presenter Mark Sheridan, from FPS Member, BAM Ritchies, began with an overview of commercial good practices and structured the session around NEC type contracts. He explained to the ECG members how to think about contracts as cars and that the clauses added to a standard contract are the added extras you select when purchasing your car – a great analogy!

With NEC the Options A to F refer to the payment mechanisms of the contract, and Mark discussed how risk can be allocated to the different contracting entities, depending on the payment mechanism agreed upon. He explained that once the payment mechanism is agreed, then NEC contracts can have Z clauses included and these are considered the ‘bolt-ons’, to continue the automotive analogy.

Of course, with any contract, it is critical to ensure the right contract is entered into for the scope of works being executed, and Mark spoke about how it is important to have procedures in place to manage change, as within construction each project experiences change and working through these is key to successful relationships.

Mark explained that prior to entering a contract it is also important for the client to understand what they have bought from the contractor, as this will be the start point for any changes. With changes the key is to ensure that effective records are presented in a clear and concise format, as this aids with getting any variations approved.
As well as effective record keeping, Mark emphasised that success when in contract is notifying the client of change at the earliest opportunity and how the worse practice you could take is to advise all the client of changes when it is too late for them to understand the change as can easily lead to disputes.

Mark added, when notifying change, it is important to make these per individual event and not to make formal notifications contain too much detail as the message will then get lost.

The presentation then ended with the Q&A session where members asked Mark about:
• Definition of ‘reasonable skill and care’ from a designer’s perspective
• Notification methods/media – Mark suggested photographs, progress reports etc are good examples of how the programme and changes could be communicated to the client
• Programmes – there was a discussion that programme on their own only give part of the story, and when programmes are appended to a contract that supporting words to explain the sequence are required

A copy of the presentation can be obtain from David Major DaMajor@expandedltd.com.