In March 2017, it was announced that NEC4, the next evolution of the NEC suite of contracts, will become available in June 2017. Sculpted from 20 years of user feedback, NEC4 aims to inspire and enable project collaboration across the UK and internationally.
Speaking at the Society of Construction Law Conference, the NEC Contract Board’s Matthew Garratt revealed that NEC4 will be made available for the very first time at the largest ever gathering of the NEC Users’ Group Annual Seminar on June 22nd 2017.
The NEC4 suite evolves out of NEC3 and has been specially designed to support innovation through digital advances and encourage collaboration across the world. Delivering real project value and enabling best practices in procurement, NEC4 recognises the need for contract administration, terminology and risk management to evolve. It is hoped that this will enable all disciplines across a flexible industry to procure, manage and deliver truly collaborative projects.
NEC4 will be officially made available to purchase following the June 22 NEC Annual Users’ Group Seminar, to be held at the etc.venues, County Hall, London.
 Changes in NEC4 works contract
The new works contracts are:
- NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC).
- NEC4 Engineering and Construction Subcontract (ECS).
- NEC4 Engineering and Construction Short Contract (ECSC).
- NEC4 Engineering and Construction Short Subcontract (ECSS).
The changes have been designed to support the on-going drive for further collaboration and integration of teams, greater use of modern work methods, better avoidance of disputes and more effective identification and management of risk and opportunity – all of which will help lead to more successful outcomes.
 ECC and ECS
There have been key changes to provisions in the ECC and ECS, as follows:
 Early warning provisions
The 'Risk Register' has been re-named the 'Early Warning Register' to distinguish it from the project risk register often used for wider project management purposes. There are now default periods for early warning meetings.
 Programming changes
There are new 'dividing date' provisions similar to those used in compensation events. New provisions provide for 'treated acceptance' of the contractor's programme in situations where the project manager does not respond to a programme issued by the contractor for acceptance, or to a reminder. This is to unlock the impasse which can sometimes occur.
 Terms standardised
There are also some important new provisions in ECC and ECS to help promote collaboration, as follows:
 Identifying opportunities
An additional procedure includes the identification of opportunities by either party. These are discussed jointly and the contractor can share in the cost savings of opportunities that it initiates
This is now included as a secondary option, based upon the clauses published by NEC in 2015.
 Supporting information modelling
A new secondary option is added specifically to support the use of information models and digital engineering models. This requires the contractor to provide an information model execution plan either for incorporation in the contract from the outset, or within a period defined by the client.
A 4 week period for escalation and negotiation of a dispute has been introduced, which takes place prior to commencing any formal proceedings. This requires nominated senior representatives of each party to meet and try to reach a negotiated solution.
The works contracts now include a dispute avoidance option W3 which can be used if the UK Housing, Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act does not apply. This is to refer any dispute to a dispute avoidance board. The benefit of this new option is to encourage and support the parties in resolving any potential dispute consensually, and to support users who wish to use this facility on their projects.
 Financial agreement
For payment applications and final accounts, there are now procedures aimed at reaching agreement on the final amounts due. Provisions have been introduced to the cost-based contracts (main options C to F) that allow the contractor to instigate a review and acceptance of its defined cost by the project manager, upon request.
Other new and changed provisions in ECC and ECS include the following:
In secondary option X12, 'Partnering' has been changed to 'Collaboration' better to reflect the intent.
A new core clause deals with confidentiality, restricting the disclosure of project information.
The use of a communication system, including an electronic one, are recognised through amended clause 13.2, and if required is defined in the scope.
 Schedules of cost components
Some changes have been made to simplify the schedules of cost components and associated contract data inputs. The 'Schedule of Cost Components' is used only for main options C, D and E and the 'Short Schedule of Cost Components' has been removed from these contracts. The short schedule is now used exclusively in options A and B and only to assess compensation events. It adopts a pre-priced approach for people cost to replace the previous cost-based approach.
 Fee percentage
 ECSC and ECSS
A number of the above ECC and ECS changes have been passed through to the ECSC and ECSS.
The main change specific to the ECSC and ECSS is that the compensation event procedure has been simplified and shortened.
For all the latest up to date information about NEC4 visit www.neccontract.com.
This article is made up of one originally published here by ICE on 3 Mar 2017, written by Lucy O'Connor, and one published here by ICE on 15 May 2017, written by Robert Gerrard, NEC Users’ Group Secretary and Tim Knee-Robinson, NEC4 drafter.
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