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What's in a name?

NCE received an avalanche of letters following its extensive coverage of the Heathrow Express trial last week..

The change in name from the 'Engineer' under the ICE 6th to the 'Project Manager' under the Engineering Construction Contract neither increases nor decreases the involvement of the right people - only good project management principles will do this. It seems strange, therefore, for Sir Alan Muir Wood to complain that the change of name is of such significance.

A careful reading of the NEC demonstrates that the contract itself does not prevent co-operation - quite the converse. Of major importance in the context of the HEX - and other complex contracts - is the early warning system. Under this, both parties have a duty to advise the other whenever they find something that is likely to cause problems for themselves or the other party, and to co-operate in seeking solutions. The adversarial approach, the cause of so many problems on difficult contracts, is removed. This is one of the fundamental differences in approach between NEC and most traditional contract forms that make it so much better for projects of this nature.

Rather than relying on the Institution issuing a health warning on contract forms, parties should take care not to assume any particular contract form overcomes the need for proper project (including design) management.

We on the NEC panel certainly agree with Sir Alan that a contract should be built around the 'engineering desiderata for success'. The NEC is.

Peter Higgins (F), Chairman, NEC Panel, Institution of Civil Engineers.

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