Last edited 09 Aug 2019

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ECA Institute / association Website

Levelling the playing field

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The Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA) has long maintained a view on what constitutes standard industry practice in contracting.

Its perspective is informed by enquiries from nearly 3,000 specialist contractors. ECA is therefore able to highlight ostensibly onerous practices within an industry where contracts can be unforgiving.

In the construction and facilities management sectors, clients attempt to dictate the terms and conditions upon which ECA Members are engaged to carry out their work.

There are two ways in which ECA Members are commonly asked to enter into contracts with their clients, namely:

There are two reasons why modified standard forms or bespoke forms of contract come about:

The latter approach is intended to safeguard the profitability of their businesses, but it will often pass on unmanageable and overly onerous risk to the party carrying out the works.

ECA has published a guidance document that identifies common areas of standard form contracts (which broadly represent the industry norm for what is acceptable risk allocation) and/or bespoke terms and identifies where those issues are modified to an ECA Member’s detriment.

The document also outlines the risk of those types of clauses; it suggests a risk-proportionate approach and rationale for finding and negotiating a compromise which aligns the risks involved with the parties who are realistically and proportionately in a position to manage those risks.

ECA wishes to identify and inform the engineering services sector and ECA Members’ decisions on what ‘fair, reasonable and good contractual practice’ looks like. ECA remains committed to fair and open competition and this document is not designed in any way to dictate what may be an appropriate risk allocation for a specific project, or act as a substitute for ECA Members obtaining project and context-specific legal advice.

ECA Members can click here to view ECA guidance on what are considered onerous contractual practices and how to handle them.

About this article

This article was written by Rob Driscoll, ECA Director of Legal and Business. It was previously published on the ECA website in August 2019 and can be accessed here.

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--ECA