Life has changed in the 50 years since the 1964 Banwell Report recommended the use of only one form of contract

Tony Bingham

I do have to say (with respect) that I disagree with Tony Bingham’s article which bemoans the plethora of standard form contracts and schedules of amendments in our industry.

Cynics might say that it is in the legal profession’s interests to support the growth in the number of standard forms available. But that is not the point. Life has changed in the 50 years since the 1964 Banwell Report, referred to by Tony, recommended the use of only one form of contract.

I cannot see how the variety of development schemes are anything other than much more complex than they used to be. Developments, procurement structures, the number of interested parties, new statutory and other schemes that need to be complied with and the other issues that come along with a big project are so involved that no unamended standard form would be appropriate.

I think a view to the contrary is unrealistic, although I would agree that some of the amendments we see these days are far too lengthy and can (and should) be simplified.

But, if a specialist piece of work needs doing, why wouldn’t you choose a form of contract that has been specifically drafted to reflect it? I am not sure, either, that I would agree with Tony’s suggestion that the industry doesn’t understand the forms. Builders and engineers have evolved too, and so has the way the industry builds.
Cheer up Tony, these changes reflect a vibrant, exciting and more sophisticated industry and we should be celebrating this.

Kate Wansbrough-Jones, associate, Olswang