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Government body tackles construction contract clauses

Contract signing

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has unveiled its plan to clamp down on the abuse of contract amendments within the construction sector.

The scheme has been launched to tackle the use of controversial contract amendments such as NEC Z clauses.

The government procurement body has drawn up 20 standard “boilerplate” amendments that can be inserted into construction contracts.

“We found that contract amendments such as Z clauses, simply do not work in their current form, they are often poorly inserted and overused.” CCS category manager for construction strategy Katie Rhodes said at the NEC users’ annual seminar.

“We decided that producing a bible of amendments would be ignored so instead we have formulated a list of 20 standard boilerplate amendments that we believe are core requirements.”

She added: “The list is like a pic ‘n’ mix option for clients to pick and choose from where appropriate.

“Our hope is that the boilerplate amendments will encourage good contract management and reduce risk mitigation.”

The announcement comes just days after the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) called on the government to reduce the use of modified contracts within the construction industry.

In particular the institution has called on the government to insist on universal, unamended NEC contracts throughout the supply chain. This includes minimising the use of Z clauses and avoiding unnecessary amendments which “upset the balance” of risk and reward.

In its list of proposals submitted to the government, the ICE’s report said: “The NEC has played a big part here, and it is inherently flexible to allow clients to tailor works information etc. to their own needs. However, clients continue to make variations to the core and supplementary conditions of contract and more should be done to discourage this.”

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