We have updated this note to refer to PPC2000 Amended 2013 (see PPC2000 contracts).
Construction standard form contracts: what are they and where can I buy a copy?
A note highlighting common construction and engineering standard form contracts and professional appointments, and where copies may be bought from. Examples include ACA, ACE, BPF, CIC, FIDIC, GC/Works, ICE, ICC, IChemE, IMechE, JCT, NEC (NEC3), PPC (PPC2000), RIBA, and RICS contracts and appointments.
Standard forms in context
All construction projects (large and small) have a complex structure of contractual relationships between multiple parties. For example, in addition to the employer (or client) and the contractor (or builder), there may also be professional consultants (such as architects, engineers, project managers or quantity surveyors) who design and manage the project, and sub-contractors, employed by the contractor, to carry out specific works. For more information on the parties to a construction project, see Practice note, Parties to a construction contract (www.practicallaw.com/5-386-5860).
The choice of procurement method will largely dictate the type of contract that the parties enter into (see Nature of the works).
"Procurement" in a construction project refers to the process of the purchase of goods and services from conception to completion. It is a vital part of the overall construction process. The participants in a construction project will choose how they structure the contractual and practical arrangements for their project.
For more information on construction procurement, see Practice note, Procurement: an overview of common construction procurement methods (www.practicallaw.com/9-329-1308).
Nature of the works
Construction and engineering works, in the widest sense, can relate to anything from a new kitchen in a small flat to a new sports stadium, or from renewing an office block's reception area to creating a new sewage system for a major city. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for construction and engineering standard form contracts, although some forms are designed to be more flexible than others:
Some standard forms of contract are tailored for specific types of construction or engineering work. For example, the IChemE contracts are intended for use in the chemical and process engineering industries (see IChemE forms of engineering contract).
Other standard forms of contract are intended for a wider range of construction and engineering projects, such as the NEC3 forms, whose authors anticipate use in various fields of both construction and engineering practice (see NEC contracts).
Construction or engineering works may be the focus of the employer or client's needs (for example, a commercial property developer may need to refurbish a building in order to re-let it), or they may be just one part of a larger project. For example, on a PFI (www.practicallaw.com/3-107-7049) or PPP (www.practicallaw.com/0-107-7084) project, construction works may be just one small, but important, part of the wider arrangements between the parties (see Practice notes, PPP/PFI in the UK (www.practicallaw.com/0-383-4220) and Construction sub-contracts in PFI and PPP projects: common issues (www.practicallaw.com/4-502-9195)).
What are the main standard form contracts?
Professional institutions and trade and umbrella bodies produce their own standard form construction and engineering contracts. Although it is not a requirement that parties procuring a project must choose a standard form contract, it is common practice (except perhaps on the most complex and bespoke of projects) for them to do so.
That said, parties frequently amend the standard forms, or use them as a starting point when developing their own contracts and procedures. For example, an employer on a commercial property development scheme may amend a JCT standard form of building contract (see JCT standard forms of building contract and Amending the standard forms of contract).
There are a number of standard form construction and engineering contracts that the parties may choose from. Some of the most common forms are the:
CIOB Contract for use with Complex Projects
The Chartered Institute of Building's (CIOB) Contract for use with Complex Projects, first edition, 2013 (www.practicallaw.com/2-519-5671) (known as CPC 2013), was published in April 2013.
CPC 2013 is suitable for building and engineering projects, both in the UK and internationally. It focuses on time management, providing for a dynamic programme (called a works schedule) and a "project time manager", together with requirements for detailed record keeping. It is ready for use with building information modelling (BIM) and electronic information exchange. Given its recent publication, there is little evidence of its popularity in the construction and engineering market.
For more information, see Practice note, CIOB Contract for use with Complex Projects (CPC 2013) (www.practicallaw.com/4-526-8845).
FIDIC forms of contract
FIDIC (www.practicallaw.com/5-381-3866) is short for the "Fédération Internationale des Ingénieurs – Conseils" (International Federation of Consulting Engineers). It is an international federation of associations of consulting engineers representing the profession in their respective countries. FIDIC's Contracts Committee is responsible for producing the most commonly used standard forms of contract for international construction projects. These forms of contracts are used throughout the world and are endorsed by many multilateral development banks (MDBs), such as the World Bank. In the UK, their use is more limited, but parties may adopt them on engineering, energy or process plant projects (or they may form the backbone of a substantially amended or bespoke approach to such projects).
FIDIC contracts are generally known by the colour of their cover: the Red Book, Yellow Book, Silver Book, Green Book, Pink Book, Gold Book, Blue Book and White Book. For more information on FIDIC contracts, see Practice note, FIDIC Forms of Contract (www.practicallaw.com/7-384-6521).
Although the GC/Works (www.practicallaw.com/0-502-2822) suite of construction contracts was published in 1999 and 2000, it is still used occasionally for public sector or engineering projects. It is perceived as a very "employer-friendly" suite and, if used today, must be updated to bring it into line with current law.
ICC conditions of contract
The Infrastructure Conditions of Contract (ICC) replaced the ICE Conditions of Contract (the ICE contracts) with effect from 1 August 2011 (see ICE engineering contracts). For more information, see Practice note, ICC: the ICC suite of contracts (www.practicallaw.com/3-508-1594).
For contracts entered into on or after 1 October 2011 in England and Wales, the ICC published amendments to the payment provisions of the ICC suite (see Legal update, Infrastructure Conditions of Contract amendment sheet available (www.practicallaw.com/2-510-2479)).
In the UK, the ICE suite was a popular suite of contracts that was gradually being used on fewer projects, partly as some employers chose to adopt the NEC contracts. The ICC suite will most likely be used on engineering, as opposed to construction, projects such as new bridges, tunnels or other standalone prices of infrastructure. Large-scale, national infrastructure projects are now more likely to adopt an amended NEC contract approach, although that approach is not universal.
ICE engineering contracts
From 1945, the Institution of Civil Engineers (www.practicallaw.com/2-205-6428) (ICE), in collaboration with the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (www.practicallaw.com/3-376-3462) (ACE) and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), published a suite of engineering contracts known as the ICE Conditions of Contract (the ICE contracts).
However, with effect from 1 August 2011, the ICE contracts have been replaced by the Infrastructure Conditions of Contract (ICC). The ICE contracts have been withdrawn from sale. The ICE's part ownership of the ICE contracts has been transferred to the ACE and the CECA, who will manage the new suite of contracts going forward and will handle all sales orders and queries (see Legal update, ICE Conditions of Contract replaced by Infrastructure Conditions of Contract (www.practicallaw.com/3-507-1241)).
Historically, the ICE suite had been popular both with engineers with a traditional outlook on contracting (who, in the UK, would likely now promote use of the ICC conditions of contract) and (internationally) in some states undertaking significant infrastructure investment, for example in Africa. Although now out of date from a UK lawyer's perspective, the ICE suite may continue to be used in some of those states.
IChemE forms of engineering contract
The Institution of Chemical Engineers (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-2104) (IChemE) issues a range of forms of contract designed specifically for use in the chemical and process engineering industries. The IChemE contracts were originally drafted for use in the UK under English law. However, in 2007, the IChemE published a series of international contract forms. For more information, see Practice notes:
For contracts entered into on or after 1 October 2011 in England and Wales, the IChemE published amendments to the payment and adjudication provisions of its contracts (see Legal update, IChemE Construction Act 1996 changes (www.practicallaw.com/3-509-2074)). In February 2013, the IChemE updated its UK suite, see Legal update, IChemE publishes 2013 editions of UK contracts (www.practicallaw.com/1-524-0650).
IMechE/IET model forms of contract
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) issue a range of model forms of general conditions of contract specifically for electrical and mechanical work and consultancy. There are seven current "primary publications", comprising four model forms (MF/1 to MF/4) and three commentaries. For more information on the model form contracts, see Practice note, IMechE/IET Model Forms of Contract (www.practicallaw.com/9-383-5729).
JCT standard forms of building contract
The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) publishes a suite of standard form building contracts and related contracts, such as collateral warranties and sub-contracts. Some JCT contracts fall into the category of "traditional procurement", where the contractor does not carry out design; others may be described as "design and build procurement", where the contractor both designs and builds a project. The JCT also publishes management contracting and construction management contracts, framework agreements and major projects contracts.
Supporters of the JCT form refer to its long "tried and tested" history and the consensual approach it seeks to take in its drafting. It is certainly the most popular suite of contracts for the commercial property and development sector, and its design and build forms may be used on large projects. However, if the parties want to contract on a target cost or partnering basis, even though JCT documents can be used and adapted for that purpose, they will often consider an alterative suite of contracts, such as the NEC contracts.
For more information on JCT contracts, see Practice note, JCT forms of building contract (www.practicallaw.com/5-329-1310).
The New Engineering Contracts (NEC) contracts are in their third edition. Originally published in the early 1990s, the current edition is the NEC3 April 2013 edition. While NEC3 refers to the whole suite of contract documents, a reference to NEC3 may often be a shorthand reference to the NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (NEC3 ECC). The NEC contracts are published by the ICE, through Thomas Telford, its publishing subsidiary. For more information on the NEC contracts, see Practice note, NEC: The NEC3 suite of contracts (www.practicallaw.com/1-383-1396).
Use of NEC contracts is expanding, assisted by support from the public sector (in particular, Cabinet Office guidance). Where circumstances allow a collaborative approach to the (design and) construction of a project, a party will often consider whether it should use an NEC ECC contracting using Option C, a Target Cost arrangement, where "gain" and "pain" can be shared by the employer and contractor (painshare/gainshare). However, while there are exceptions, the NEC has not gained a significant foothold in the commercial property development sector.
The Association of Consulting Architects (ACA) first published its project partnering contract, the PPC2000 (www.practicallaw.com/6-384-0746), in September 2000, revising it in 2008 and again in 2013. The latest version is entitled PPC2000 Amended 2013. The ACA states that it was the first standard form partnering contract.
In October 2007, the ACA published an international version to cater for jurisdictions outside the UK and, in October 2010, it published the:
Standard Form of Specialist Contract for Term Partnering (STPC2005).
Standard Short Form of Specialist Contract for Project Partnering (SPC2000 Short Form).
Some commentators remain sceptical about PPC2000, in particular during challenging economic times. They query either the whole approach of partnering or the PPC2000's particular approach, where all parties enter into a single contract. However, some clients and sectors have adopted the PPC2000 suite with open arms. For example, the social housing sector has used the contract effectively for many years.
For more information on:
Partnering in construction projects, see Practice note, Partnering or alliancing on a construction or engineering project (www.practicallaw.com/5-383-9791).
Amending the standard forms of contract
While it is unusual in the UK for the parties to a typical construction or engineering project to use a fully bespoke construction or engineering contract, the parties frequently amend the standard forms. For example, see:
Practice note, NEC3: Using and amending the Engineering and Construction Contract (www.practicallaw.com/4-500-3162), which includes links to precedent NEC3 Z clauses, and Standard document, NEC3: Engineering and Construction Contract form of agreement (www.practicallaw.com/1-505-4501).
Forms of appointment for professional consultants
In a construction or engineering project, a professional consultant provides specialist advice in relation to the project, including in connection with design, project management, contract administration and cost management. For information on the ways in which a professional consultant may be appointed and the services they provide, see Practice note, Professional appointments: the consultant's role and appointment (www.practicallaw.com/5-382-8387).
Standard forms of professional appointment
The major disciplines of professional consultant are organised by professional institutions, which publish numerous standard forms of professional appointment. Some property and construction trade or umbrella organisations also publish standard forms. Common standard forms include:
The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (www.practicallaw.com/3-376-3462) (ACE) Agreements 2009, now in their second revision (see Practice note, ACE: the ACE Agreements (www.practicallaw.com/1-511-9630)).
The British Property Federation (www.practicallaw.com/2-376-4706) (BPF) Consultancy Agreement Version 2, which is under review by the BPF.
The Construction Industry Council (www.practicallaw.com/0-381-3864) (CIC) Consultant's Contract Package, now in its second edition (see Practice note, CIC Consultants' Contract: 2007 and 2011 Editions (www.practicallaw.com/7-383-6758)).
The NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC), published by the ICE (see NEC contracts).
The Royal Institute of British Architects (www.practicallaw.com/6-106-4941) (RIBA) Agreements 2010, which have been consolidated into a 2012 revision including Construction Act 1996 amendments (see Practice note, RIBA Agreements 2010 (www.practicallaw.com/1-502-4076)).
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (www.practicallaw.com/1-106-4420) (RICS) Forms of Appointment.
The Association of Consultant Architects (ACA) (www.practicallaw.com/6-522-1710) Standard Form of Agreement for the Appointment of an Architect, which is based on the "old" RIBA Standard form of Appointment for an Architect (SFA), and which was updated in 2012 to include Construction Act 1996 amendments. The ACA form is less common in practice than the RIBA form.
Although it is not best practice, professional consultants occasionally suggest using an older (sometimes outdated) form of appointment from their professional institution. A party should exercise particular care if it is asked to contract on a previous version of a standard form of contract, while perhaps noting that the trend over time has been to include greater protections for the professional consultant at the client's expense.
There is a long-running debate between professional consultants (and their advisers) and employers (and their advisers) about what the correct balance of risk and reward is between a professional consultant and the employer. To summarise, employers may argue that the professional institutions' forms are too generous to professional consultants, while professional consultants may argue that (for example) the BPF form is too employer-friendly. One example of these discussions is whether professional appointments should include a net contribution clause. (For more information, see Practice notes, Net contribution: what is a net contribution clause? (www.practicallaw.com/6-376-4243) and Net contribution: should a construction document include a net contribution clause? (www.practicallaw.com/8-376-4242).)
Bespoke form of professional appointment
As an alternative to using a standard form of appointment, either party (most likely the employer) may propose a bespoke form of professional appointment drafted to suit their particular project. While it is common to use an amended standard form building or engineering contract, the parties to a major construction project usually adopt a bespoke form of professional appointment. (For an example, see Standard document, Professional appointment (www.practicallaw.com/5-382-5666).)
It is possible to amend the professional institutions' standard forms, but this is less common. However, as a notable exception, NEC3 users will often use, or base their professional appointment on, the NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC), because it integrates with the NEC3 ECC.
It is possible to procure a project without separate professional advisers to carry out design, for example using the FIDIC Silver Book (see Practice note, FIDIC Forms of Contract: The Silver Book (www.practicallaw.com/7-384-6521)). However, even then, an employer may need to appoint external professional consultants to assist it with contract administration, project management or testing responsibilities.
Where can I buy standard form contracts and professional appointments?
Copyright restrictions prevent us republishing standard forms online
For copyright reasons, we cannot reproduce and publish the standard forms of construction and engineering contracts or professional appointments.
Where a standard form is available free to download online, we always aim to link to that online version.
You can buy standard forms online and from bookshops
You can buy hard copy and digital copies of the various standard forms from a number of external websites and specialist bookshops:
ACA PPC2000. The PPC2000 may be bought from the ACA's website (www.practicallaw.com/6-384-0746).
ACA Standard Form of Agreement for the Appointment of an Architect. The SFA may be bought from the ACA's website (www.practicallaw.com/6-522-1710). The 2012 version includes Construction Act 1996 amendments.
ACE Agreements 2009. The ACE Agreements 2009 may be bought from the ACE's website (www.practicallaw.com/3-376-3462).
BPF Consultancy Agreement Version 2. The BPF's Consultancy Agreement Version 2 is available to buy from the construction contracts section of the BPF website (www.practicallaw.com/2-376-4706). However, the BPF has not yet published amendments to this agreement, to take account of the changes to the Construction Act 1996. In January 2012, the BPF updated its website to confirm that the agreement was under review (see Legal update, BPF collateral warranties quietly revived (www.practicallaw.com/6-517-2875)).
Building Centre bookshop. The Building Centre bookshop stocks a variety of materials for the built environment, including a number of the standard form contracts published by the ACE, FIDIC, JCT, NEC and RICS. These are available to buy online (www.practicallaw.com/6-502-2621), or by visiting the bookshop on Store Street, London WC1E 7BT.
Construction books direct. The Chartered Institute of Building's (www.practicallaw.com/1-382-5135) (CIOB) online bookshop sells its own forms of contract, such as the CIOB Facilities Management Contract and CPC 2103, as well as other forms of contract. See the Constructionbooksdirect website (www.practicallaw.com/4-517-9689).
CIC Consultant's Contract Package. The CIC's Consultant's Contract Package may be bought from the publication section of the CIC website (www.practicallaw.com/0-381-3864). The second edition (November 2011) includes amendments prepared by the CIC to take account of the changes to the Construction Act 1996.
FIDIC forms of contract. Copies of all of the FIDIC contracts may be bought from the bookshop on the FIDIC website (www.practicallaw.com/5-381-3866).
The FIDIC MDB Harmonised Edition (Pink Book) (www.practicallaw.com/5-386-1046) is available to download free of charge.
GC/Works. The GC/Works suite of construction contracts may be bought from the Stationary Office's online bookshop (www.practicallaw.com/0-502-2822).
ICC conditions of contract. The Infrastructure Conditions of Contract (ICC) may be brought from the ACE's website (www.practicallaw.com/3-376-3462). The amendment sheet for the payment provisions to comply with the Construction Act 1996 (as amended) is free to download from its website (www.practicallaw.com/0-510-3050).
ICE conditions of contract. With effect from 1 August 2011, the ICE conditions of contract have been replaced by the Infrastructure Conditions of Contract (ICC). The ICE contracts have been withdrawn from sale. See ICC conditions of contract above.
IChemE forms of engineering contract. The IChemE forms of engineering contract may be bought from the shop on the IChemE website (www.practicallaw.com/3-383-2658). The amendment sheets to comply with the Construction Act 1996 (as amended) are free to download from its website (www.practicallaw.com/7-509-2147). However, note that these have now been incorporated into the 2013 versions of its contracts.
IMechE/IET model forms of contract. The model forms of contract and their commentaries can be bought from the publishing section of the IET website (www.practicallaw.com/5-502-2570).
MF/4 is available to download free of charge from the IMechE website (www.practicallaw.com/9-383-5852).
JCT standard forms of building contract. All of the JCT standard form building contracts and related contracts may be bought from the contracts section of the JCT website (www.practicallaw.com/0-106-5180). Some amendments, updates and corrections may be free to download.
NEC contracts. The NEC contracts are published by Thomas Telford, and may be bought from the NEC contracts website (www.practicallaw.com/6-381-3861).
RIBA bookshop. In addition to the RIBA professional forms of appointment, the RIBA bookshop (www.practicallaw.com/1-502-2609) stocks a range of publications on architecture, design and construction, a selection of standard form contracts (including GC/Works, JCT and NEC) and the building regulations. These are available to buy online, or may be bought by visiting one of the RIBA bookshops. The amendment sheets to comply with the Construction Act 1996 (as amended) are free to download from the RIBA bookshop. For example, see RIBA: Standard Agreement 2010: Architect (1 October 2011) (www.practicallaw.com/4-509-0687). However, note that these amendments have now been incorporated in a 2012 revision to the RIBA agreements.
RICS bookshop. The RICS forms of appointment are available to RICS members to buy from the knowledge section (practice standards and guidance) of the RICS website (www.practicallaw.com/1-106-4420). Alternatively, copies of the forms of appointment may be bought from the RICS bookshop (www.practicallaw.com/7-502-2611).