GC/Works/1 – General Conditions of Government Contracts for Building and Civil Engineering Works, Edition 3 (1991)
This edition is used mainly by UK government departments. They are, in consequence,
widely used and are available in a number of different forms, for example, for payment by priced bills of quantities, lump sum, schedule of rates, or for design and construct, or supply only contracts. The contract is administered by a project manager or supervising officer who may be given powers similar to those of the engineer under the ICE conditions, but this depends on the policy of the government department concerned and type of work undertaken.
The employer (i.e. government department) takes on some powers exercised by the engineer under ICE conditions, including granting extension of time and deciding some payments to the contractor. Different departments may adopt different approaches in using the conditions, and new methods of contract administration have been tried out from time to time. Earlier editions of these conditions were felt to leave too much of the risk of construction with the contractor;
for example by allowing neither extra time nor money in the event of bad weather. The 3rd edition of GC/Works/1 published in 1998 shows a more balanced approach but still does not require the project manager to act fairly.
Joint Contracts Tribunal Conditions
These conditions are not intended or used for civil engineering work but are the most widely used conditions adopted in the building industry; they are described here to show the building industry’s different approach. Buildings will, of course, include many significant elements of civil construction, such as deep foundations or reinforced concrete structures such as a multi-storey car park. The ‘Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT)’ which produces these conditions comprises representatives of the RIBA, RICS, ACE, various employers and building contractors and specialist contractors’ organizations and representatives of local of employer and for payment by lump sum or quantities. Usually an architect or contract administrator supervises construction and issues certificates for payment, but a civil engineer may carry out these duties for structural works.
Quantity surveyors, advisory to the architect, draw up bills of quantities and produce valuations and estimates.
Unlike civil engineering work, items in the bills contain descriptions of what is required in addition to any specification included in the contract documents, and the work has to be carried out in accordance with the bills and the drawings.
Much of the work is carried out by sub-contractors appointed by the main contractor or sub-contractors nominated by the employer through the architect. The need for nomination arises so that the architect can obtain exactly the finishes, etc. he wishes to suit his designs. This tends to result in an increased possibility of disputes arising. AClerk of Works may be appointed to supervise work on site for the employer but with very limited powers under the contract.
It is thus possible for there to be three separate appointments – architect, quantity surveyor and clerk of works – taking part in supervision and this splitting of responsibilities and duties can lead to problems.
A Management form of JCT Contract was introduced in 1987 under which the onus for carrying out the work is placed upon a management contractor:
that is, a firm of builders or civil engineers whose primary input is to manage and co-ordinate the inputs of sub-contractors (see Sections 1.10 and 2.5(b)).