The continuing desire to bring new standard form contracts to the market is astonishing – maybe the construction industry should adopt a new year’s resolution

Lindy Patterson

As we approach the end of the year what is there to keep us going beyond the holidays? A glimpse of fun and excitement over the horizon? Look no further than the promise of more new versions and types of standard form contract.

JCT has plans for a Target Cost contract- a recognition that NEC’s version is popular. It also plans to introduce an international contract and sub contract- not to rival FIDIC- but something completely different.

Each new contract is launched in a blaze of publicity and pronouncements that this is the one to end all problems

Separately we will see commonly used contracts updated. There is LOGIC- a contract initially used for the oil and gas industry but now creeping into energy related building contracts. New editions of their Onshore and Offshore Standard Contracts are due within the coming year. With off shore wind high on everyone’s agenda its use will undoubtedly increase in the coming year.

And FIDIC is due to issue an updated edition next year of the “yellow book” (Conditions of Contract for Plant and Design-Build for Electrical and Mechanical and Plant and for Building and Engineering works designed by the Contractor) with others to follow.

However, the continuing desire to bring new types of standard form contract to the market is astonishing. Each new one launched in a blaze of publicity and pronouncements that this is the one to end all problems and disputes. Yes, the current forms that are used need to be updated regularly but do we really need further new contracts for lawyers to set about amending?

Perhaps a new year resolution for the construction industry should be to work with what we have in the way of existing standard forms and concentrate our efforts on more fruitful initiatives. After all, they’re not that bad, are they?

Lindy Patterson QC is a partner and solicitor advocate at Dundas & Wilson LLP