The first BIM protocol for use with ISO 19650 provides a legal framework for those using the international standard

Simon lewis new bw 2017

Another step in the development of the UK BIM framework has been taken with the publication of the Information Protocol to be used with the international standard BS EN ISO 19650-1 and -2: 2018. Until now, the only industry standard BIM protocol was the Construction Industry Council (CIC) Protocol, 2nd Edition, published in April 2018. The CIC protocol was, however, closely aligned with the standards applicable in the UK at the time of publication, in particular the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 1192 series. Subsequently, ISO 10650-1 and -2 replaced the equivalent PASs and consequently there was a need for a protocol that reflects the ISO process and terminology.

The new protocol follows and complements the helpful guidance issued by the UK BIM Alliance, Centre for Digital Built Britain and BSI, titled Information Management According to BS EN ISO 19650. The protocol attempts to ensure that when parties use the ISO there is an adequate legal framework in place to bring together all the important information requirements in one place. Section 17 and annex C of part 1 of the guidance provide a high-level review of the legal obligations. The new protocol is thus the next step in providing a more detailed framework to be used with the ISO standard. 

The Information Protocol is structured so as to reflect the ISO 19650-2 process with appropriate legal relationships and terminology established. It was the intention of the Information Protocol’s authors (May Winfield of Buro Happold, Andrew Croft of Beale & Co and myself) to make it as easy to use as possible. As a result, the protocol requires only the first page (the “information particulars”) be completed. Everything else can remain untouched and there is no need to fill in or remove any appendices or other documents. The most important thing to be done in addition to completing the particulars is to make sure the protocol is incorporated into the contract, and a proposed incorporation clause can be found in the second section of the introduction.

The protocol attempts to ensure that when parties use the ISO there is an adequate legal framework in place to bring together all the important information requirements in one place

In addition to providing the framework for the legal aspects of the ISO process, the protocol introduces the terminology used by the ISO, which is in places different from that used in the previous PAS (and different from the terminology commonly used in the UK construction sector). A list of the principal differences can be found in ISO 19650-1 (Concepts and Principles) and also as part of the guidance at table C1 and paragraph C1 in annex C. Perhaps the most striking difference to those looking at the Information Protocol for the first time is the use of “appointor”, “appointee”, “appointing party” and “lead appointed party”. These are used instead of the more familiar terminology (employer, contractor, subcontractor, consultant and so on) because terms such as “employer”, while they have one particular meaning in the context of the UK construction industry, often have a different and quite specific meaning in the context of the international construction sector. Consequently, the ISO itself uses “appointed party” and “appointing party”, which is reflected in the protocol. The use of the neutral terms “appointor” and “appointee” is to allow for the protocol to be used up and down the supply chain without having to be amended.

The main body of the protocol begins with the interpretation section, then there are sections setting out the main obligations of the appointing party, the appointor and the appointee, and then obligations in relation to the common data environment (clauses 1 to 6). The next group of clauses (7 to 10) deal with information: its management and use, level of information need and transfer of information. Clauses 4.8 and 11 deal with the consequences of failing to follow a security management plan (if one is needed) and tie into the new BS EN ISO 19650-5, which replaces PAS 1192-5, dealing with the security-minded approach to built assets. Clause 12 deals with obligations that survive termination of the contract incorporating the protocol, and the protocol concludes at clause 13 with a definitions section tying back to the ISO. Some of the clauses (such as clause 8 dealing with information use) will be familiar to those who know the CIC BIM Protocol, whereas others will be new.

We recognised the need to keep the protocol as short as possible (which some reading it for the first time may find hard to believe) while allowing it to be incorporated into existing contracts with the minimum amount of alteration and to be capable of being used throughout the supply chain without amendment. It is the first and so far only publicly available protocol to deal with the ISO 19650 process. The protocol does not address the anticipated publication of BS EN ISO 19650-3, which will replace PAS 1192-3, dealing with the operational phase of the asset. For now PAS 1192-3 remains the applicable standard.

We hope the protocol will encourage parties to use the ISO information management process by offering a clear and straightforward legal framework to complement the extensive guidance already available and to further encourage the development of the digital transformation of the UK built environment.

Simon Lewis is a partner in the construction and engineering team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK)

With thanks to May Winfield and Andrew Croft.