Reading Construction Forum contract to promote partnering to be trialled this year and come into use in 2001.
The Reading Construction Forum is producing an Egan-style contract for clients and main contractors that will formalise the operation of a partnering agreement.

A working party, until this month headed by retired Gardiner & Theobald partner Michael Coates, has been formed to put together a draft this year. It is understood that the contract will be used in trial projects monitored by the group, and will be more widely available in 2001.

Malcolm Dodds, director of the cross-industry forum, said: “We aim to solve the fundamental conflict between what our members are trying to do in a project and the instruments there are for them to do it.”

Ideas that may be incorporated into the draft contract include clear risk allocation within the project team and between the team and the client, and a common insurance policy. The new role of dispute mediator may also be added to the project team.

Working group member Giles Dixon, a partner at law firm Nabarro Nathanson, said the mediator could be a lawyer who would try to resolve in disputes before they get to the arbitration stage. He said: “This is not a contract as much as a new approach to contracting without using a standard form or traditional documents.”

Dixon said many companies involved in partnering agreements often use standard construction contracts in addition to a partnering agreement. He said: “We want to pull the partnering and contract procedures together.”

Dixon backed the idea of shared insurance. He said: “Insurance firms do not help the co-operative process because they tell the insuree not to admit liability.”

Other members of the working party include Alfred McAlpine, Kier Group and Slough Estates. McAlpine Special Projects division director Marc Preston said: “This will turn the project away from being a straight contract into a management tool with risk register and an action plan as a central theme.”

The move comes as the Joint Contract Tribunal is considering drawing up its own partnering contract.

The Reading contract was backed by Specialist Engineering Contractors Group chief executive Rudi Klein, who called for the Movement for Innovation to get involved. He said: “It needs to be co-ordinated by the Movement for Innovation. It needs to promote this more and put resources into it. We have got to stop the prattle about team working and get to how we are doing it.”

A replacement for Coates on the forum is due to be announced this month.