Independence of the Engineer, in relation to the contract, was ever the essence of the ICE conditions. Those with long experience of successful, fair and economic administration of the ICE conditions have, over the years, expressed increasing apprehension over appointment of the Engineer on the basis of competition on cost, and on the imposition of the lawyer between the parties (and the Engineer).
Only the conscientious, competent Engineer recognises the scope of his duties; it is too easy for the remainder to ease their commitment by transferring their risk on to the Contractor.
If, for the 7th Edition (NCE last week) disputes do not have to be routed initially through the Engineer, the authority of the Engineer and his ability to vary design will no longer be able to contribute to overcoming unforeseen problems. All will lose - except the lawyers.
It is a pity that a symptom only has been addressed, for the 7th Edition, with the usual unintended consequences of so doing, in preference to the fundamental principle, the question of trust.
Alan Muir Wood (F), Franklands, Bere Court Road, Pangbourne, Berks RG8 8JY