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What’s in a contract?

ICE believes a policy of standardisation will help promote best practice.

At a time where public funding is severely constrained and the private sector is still recovering from the recession, improving efficiency and value on construction projects is a key driver for the industry.

The type of contract used on projects can have a big impact on achieving this, ensuring projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Currently across the construction industry there are many different types of contracts used, often selected because of personal knowledge and experience for vastly varying projects, in size, complexity and scope.

Unified approach

ICE believes a unified approach is needed to deal with the wide range of projects we work on in a collaborative manner, in order to promote best practice procurement across industry.

Transforming our infrastructure over the coming decades to facilitate a low carbon economy will require that clients and suppliers both have real confidence in the long-term outcomes and returns. This can partly be bolstered by the use of reliable,standardised contracts that keep project management costs down and projects
on track.

Experience, and indeed ICE Council’s own research, has shown that increasingly clients, designers and contractors are looking to the NEC family of contracts to provide this collaborative approach.

NEC was developed to enable good practice through the inclusion of project management principles to the contractual process.

It was also designed to be as flexible as possible in order to achieve a standardised approach to the various engineering, construction and building sectors.

It is this collaborative approach, recognised as best practice, that ICE wishes to foster.

The NEC family offers a unique holistic approach to managing a project, that goes beyond simply defining the legal relationships and can be applied to all projects no matter how large or small or how simple or complex.

This vision is also behind the recent decision to withdraw ICE support for the ICE Conditions of Contract.
ICE’s sole endorsement of NEC, also exclusively endorsed by the Office of Governmental Commerce, will help us in our role to promote best practice procurement, encouraging industry to deliver ‘more for less’ which of course is crucial in these austere times.

  • Barry Clarke is ICE vice president.

NEC has set up a dedicated helpdesk manned by experts on ICE conditions and NEC. This service is free of charge
for ICE members. Email
enquiries to For more information on NEC contracts
go to

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