After more than twenty years since the first edition of the NEC contract was issued for consultation, the Publishers have issued a welcome set of guidance notes on how to prepare Works Information.
Since NEC started to be used on a widespread basis, many construction professionals have been using their own forms, many of which are derived from preliminaries documents from other forms of contract, which may not be in line with this, and which may now be worth checking against these guidelines for potential flaws.
For the first time, the note provides clarity as to what NEC consider to be best practice in the setting out of Works Information, including a draft template showing the possible layout of a set of Works Information and a summary of the places in the NEC contract where the Works Information is referred to, which can be used as a checklist to ensure that the Works Information functions in line with the contract and is consistent with it.
Among the considerations are that the Works Information should not be confused with the following:-
- information within the Contract Data, such as site boundaries, partnering information, incentives, key persons, matters to be included in the initial Risk Register, information describing the Working Areas and the programme
- Site Information describing the Site and its surroundings, including information about soil and subsoils, geotechnical, hydrological and environmental information and information about existing services, machinery and infrastructure
- pricing information such as Activity Schedules or Bills of Quantities or other information which describes how the works are to be priced (there is also no place for provisional sums or traditional prelims)
The note also clarifies that at least in the unamended form, heirarchies of documents should not be created, as this potentially interferes with the mechanics in the core clauses, and standard specifications should be avoided to prevent misinterpretation of the Works Information and disputes.
The publishers also stress that health and safety information is to be included in the Works Information.
Similarly, the publishers encourage the use of simple vocabulary and short sentences with few adjectives and adverbs to prevent a subjective interpretation of the Works Information. For simplicity, bullet points should also not be used to provide lists with only short descriptions and the present tense should be used consistent with the core clauses. There is also a clarification that "may" in the context of the NEC contract means that something is allowed to happen, not that something might happen, and that the use of "any" should be avoided. Similarly, there is clarification that in line with the contract, italics should be used to refer to something defined in the Contract Data and capital letters should be used to refer to a term defined in the contract.
Given the potential risks of disputes and losing money due to Works Information not being in the correct form and consistent with the contract, construction professionals would be well advised to pay careful attention to the guidance note and make appropriate amendments to their Works Information documents.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.