How Can the Law Improve Construction Projects?

In the UK and in many jurisdictions the
culture of construction is fragmented and it’s defensive and that’s because
people are always preparing for battle we have a lack of trust caused by a lack
of information and a vicious circle that leads to more and more disputes. Let me
give you an example if someone goes out to contractors to invite proposals for a
new school shall we say, if they don’t ask the contractor and the
subcontractors what they think of the designs, then any problems or omissions
don’t come out. If they don’t give the contractor a chance to investigate the
site, then there may be false assumptions as to where the school is going to be
built. If they assume how long it’s going to take the contractor they could be
over-optimistic regarding the program so if they don’t get that feedback, that
integration of people’s ideas and proposals then we have disputes waiting
to happen. It may not seem something that the law can help with, this range of
problems that I’ve described but we can bring into being new approaches to
selecting teams, new approaches to contracts that develop the exchange of
information. So on the example I gave if we’re going out for bids on a new school
we can create a selection process where we bring in our team conditionally, where
we ask them what they think about the designs, give them another chance to look at the site, give them a chance to build up their costs, so that we get accurate
information exchanged and at the same time that builds up trust and builds up
relationships between all the team members. And there are two other things
that the law can do to help. One is to create a governance system of joint
decision-making of early-warning so that people find out about problems in good
time and so that they’re motivated to solve those problems together rather
than just blame someone else. And we can put that into our contracts, we can give
communication systems, early warning systems, action-based meetings that get
us out of trouble rather than digging us in more deeply. And then finally we can
give people new motivation because they’re not going to change
their ways overnight, they do need to invest in a new approach, perhaps the
best motivation is the prospect of some extra work under a long-term strategic
appointment so that they want to work together on the next project and so that
they earn the right to do so. you

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