Review your contract: scope

The first element in my STAR analysis is Scope.

When reviewing a contract, it is critical that the obligations of both partners are clearly set out. Often the provider – the company providing the goods, materials, and plant or carrying out the works or performing the services – gets all the focus. Any project, however requires both partners to work together and co-operate. It’s not just about paying fees and endless cups of coffee!

Scope of client’s duties

The highly readable MF/1 clearly sets out the facilities that the client has to provide:

  • access and means of access to the site (clause 11.1)
  • consents , wayleaves and approvals (11.2)
  • import licences and permits (11.3)
  • foundations if noted (11.4)
  • suitable lifting equipment (11.5)
  • electricity, water, gas, air and other services (11.6)
  • fuel, electricity, labour, materials, stores, water, apparatus and other items for testing (11.7)

This is comprehensive and clarifies the expectations of both the contractor and the client.

Your contract could include a shorter clause like this one from the new Federation of Master Builder’s Domestic Contract (which I helped redraft):

The client will provide: [tick] toilet and washing facilities [tick] water [tick] electricity and [tick] storage space

Scope of contractor’s duties

The tricky aspect of setting out the contractor’s scope is that the client can often explain what outputs it requires, and the contractor can list what inputs it provides, but there is rarely a link between these two. If you are setting out the scope of works or services, remember to consider that it should be clear to the client (however inexperienced in that sort of project) what it is paying for.

A good scope will provide a description of the works that is both succinct and sophisticated. It must be possible to tell when they are fully complete, that they comply with permissions and that they are as described on the works documents.

When considering the scope of services for a project manager, the court said:

‘a central part of the role of the project manager [was] as co-ordinator and guardian of the client’s interests’ … one should not (in my view) allow the difficulty of constructing a detailed prescriptive account of precisely what steps should have been taken and when they should have been taken to blind one to the big picture [ie protecting their client’s interests]

For further assistance, see chapter 9 of How to Write Simple and Effective Consultant Appointments in Just 500 Words’ (available from Amazon). 

What should you do?

Whatever your project, the contract must make clear the obligations of both partners to provide services and facilities as needed.

Note: MF/1 is the Model Form of Agreement for Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic Plant, issued by the IMechE and I have used it for projects from automatic warehousing, amphibious boats, fire systems and airport scanners. Case: Ampleforth Abbey Trust v Turner & Townsend Project Management Ltd [2012] EWHC 2137 (TCC), paragraphs 76 and 99.

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