Many contracts contain a clause which allows both partners to change the project content as time goes on.
Some of those changes are required because the client changes her mind. If you’ve ever watched Grand Designs, you will know just how many intricate decisions have to be made, and how few of those were made before the works started! Others arise due to floods, riots, changes in legislation, finding Richard III under your car park, unexploded bombs, mineshafts or other surprises.
Your contract needs a change mechanism – otherwise (1) you’d need a new contract every time you wanted to add more work and (2) you’d never be allowed to miss things out that you no longer want. Construction and engineering contracts take a pragmatic approach by expressly including change or variation mechanisms.
MF/1 is unusual as it allows the partners to reduce the work required:
“the term ‘variation’ means any alteration of the Works whether by way of addition, modification or omission.” (clause 27.1)
Not all contracts allow the partners to omit works (and unless your contract does, then you can’t reduce the scope of your project). But what if the circumstances mean that items of works are no longer required? It would be madness to require a contractor to provide and a client to pay for something she no longer wants.
Although the contract does not say this, a client is NOT entitled to omit works from one contract to get a cheaper price with another contractor. This is not what the clause is designed for and could result in the client removing most of the work and effectively ending this contract. Beware: not all changes are allowed!
MF/1 also doesn’t allow unlimited variations, whether extra or omitted works. The cumulative effect of all the variations under an MF/1 contract cannot:
“involve a net addition to or deduction from the Contract Price of more than 15% unless the [partners] consent in writing.”
Limits like this are sensible and benefit both the client and the contractor. It prevents an unscrupulous client doubling the project without giving the contractor a chance to decide if it has the resources to carry out the revised project. It also ensures that new rates can be used for new economies of scale. And it lets funders or clients be sure that the contract price will not keep rising out of control …