Last edited 04 Sep 2020

Contractor's master programme

Contracts may require that the contractor provides a master programme for the construction of the works as soon as possible after the execution of the contract, if it has not been previously provided. However, as it is produced after the execution of the contract, the programme does not impose any obligation on the contractor beyond those obligations imposed by the contract documents.

For clarity, the contract documents should specify the level of detail required by the contractor's master programme, which may include critical paths and other information allowing the contract administrator to interrogate the programme and properly assess its implications.

The contract administrator may comment on the contractor's master programme but should not approve it, as approval might be considered to relieve the contractor of liability for programming the works in such a way as to achieve the completion date.

In making any comments, the contract administrator may wish to consider whether the master programme properly reflects the requirements of the contract (such as the inclusion of the appropriate milestones), whether it contains errors and whether it will make unrealistic demands on the consultant team to produce or comment on information.

The programme may be used as the baseline for a claim for an extension of time by the contractor, and the contractor is generally required to update the master programme as the works proceed to reflect any extensions of time that have been granted.

Under the NEC (The New Engineering Contract): Engineering and Construction Contract, requirements regarding the preparation of the contractor's programme are more specific, and upon acceptance it becomes the ‘accepted programme’ for the works.

There is "...nothing in the (JCT) contract that obliges the contractor to have a master programme." [ref Chappell, D. (2014). The JCT Standard Building Contract 2011. 1st ed. John Wiley and Sons Ltd., p.100]. The contractor merely has to provide it if they have created one, although it could be argued that on any sizeable contract it would be virtually impossible to complete the project without a master programme.

NB: The completion date indicated on the contractor's master programme may be earlier than the completion date entered into the contract.

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