The Engineer’s role under MF/1 (like any contract administrator) is a balancing act.
Firstly, they are an agent for the purchaser, as well as an employee. The engineer issues ‘certificates, decisions, instructions and orders’ (clause 2.1) but only as set out in the contract. The engineer’s authority derives from the express terms of MF/1.
Secondly, they make decisions that affect the rights and remedies of the purchaser and the contractor. This latter element requires impartiality, as emphasised in MF/1 which requires any discretion to be exercised fairly (clause 2.7).
Tasks to Carry Out
The role of the engineer can be split into:
- Time: The engineer approves the contractor’s programme (14.1), warns the contractor if progress is too slow (14.6), issues the taking-over certificate (29.1) and grants valid extensions for completion (33.1).
- Cost: The engineer issues interim certificates of payment (39.6), correct errors in previous payment certificates (39.6), has sole authority to issue variations (27.2), values any variations (27.3), and receives claims for additional payment (41.1).
- Quality: The engineer approves the contractor’s drawings and designs (15.1), and may design part of the works (13.3). As well as testing, the Engineer can instruct the contractor to rectify defects before taking-over (26.1) or afterwards (36.3), and confirms completion of any outstanding items or work after taking-over (29.4).
- Testing: The engineer inspects and tests plant before delivery (23.1), attends the tests on completion (28.2), and may carry out or attend the performance tests (35.2). The engineer also initiates some of the remedies for failure to meet tests such as defect rectification (see above), rejection (28.5 or 38.5(c)).
Essentially, the engineer supervises and tests the works, manages the processes under the contract and monitors the contractor’s performance against key objectives such as time, cost and quality. Because of the role of objective and measurable testing under MF/1, quality standards are rarely left to the discretion or satisfaction of just the engineer.
What Should You Do?
You’re the Engineer? Given the critical role of the engineer you need to read and understand the MF/1 contract – especially its processes, risk management and testing – before work starts.
You’re A Party? You need to understand the limits on the engineer’s authority (either in the contract or set out in the Appendix, clause 2.1), and work closely and collaboratively with the engineer to meet the project objectives.