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Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs – Conseils (from French, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers)
Founded in 1913 by three countries, each wholly or partly francophone, specifically Belgium, France and Switzerland. There are now 78 Member Associations from all over the world.
Currently located at the World Trade Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. Further details are available at www.fidic.org.
FIDIC is a global representative for the consulting engineering industry, promoting the business interests of firms supplying technology-based intellectual services for built and natural environments alike.
FIDIC is well known for its work drafting standard form Conditions of Contract for the worldwide construction industry, particularly in the context of higher value international construction projects, and is endorsed by many multilateral development banks ("MDBs").
Companies and organisations belong to FIDIC national member associations which now represent other professionals, such as architects. FIDIC also has affiliate members interested in its work, such as lawyers and insurers.
FIDIC organises conferences, seminars and training courses and, until 2002, FIDIC ran FIDICdirect, the International Directory of Consulting Engineers, which is now run by ICONdirect. (see icondirect.net)
A substantial amount. In 1999, FIDIC published a completely new suite of contracts, the 'Rainbow Suite', various contracts having been updated. These include:
The most well known forms of FIDIC Contract are The Red Book (traditional conditions), The Yellow Book (D&B conditions) and The Silver Book (EPC/turnkey conditions).
The contract structure is generally the same:
The 1999 Red Book is globally the most commonly used standard form contract for construction and engineering works where most or all the works are designed by, or on behalf of, the employer.
When profiling risk, FIDIC has historically allocated risk based on which party is best placed to assume the risk; in contrast, The Silver book adopts a market practice approach, placing the majority of risk on the contractor, primarily including design and design co-ordination, along with any employer design.
With The Red Book and The Yellow Book, the employer takes on risks such as unforeseeable ground conditions, unforeseeable operations of the forces of nature, force majeure (such as acts of war, terrorism and natural disasters) planning and environmental permits, and changes to the law. The party who prepares the design takes on the responsibility for its defects.
A feature of The Red Book 1999 edition is the reorganisation of various contractual terms, now following a more logical format. Accordingly, Clause 8 now deals with all topics related to starting work, programming, delays and suspension during the course of the works.
Clause 8.1 asserts a default Commencement Date of 42 days from the date on which the contractor receives the Letter of Acceptance, unless particular conditions provide otherwise. The engineer gives the contractor at least 7 days notice of the Commencement Date. The contractor commences work "as soon as reasonably practicable" after the Commencement Date, proceeding with works "with due expedition and without delay".
The Red Book proceeds on the assumption the project will be competitively tendered and the employer will send a Letter of Acceptance in relation to the accepted tender. Whilst the contract contains a pro-forma Letter of Tender there is no pro-forma for the Letter of Acceptance. The contract assumes this letter, signed by the employer, will equate to unconditional acceptance of a tender. The contract therefore assumes contractual relations between the parties have been created prior to signing the contract, based on the Letter of Acceptance.
In practice, many contracts are negotiated with no tendering whatsoever, or with significant post-tender negotiations. FIDIC has introduced the requirement to reach agreement and then create a Letter of Tender and Letter of Acceptance prior to signing the contract, which is somewhat naïve, and it would be preferable to include these as agreed terms in the contract. The contract can easily be amended but it is suggested it would be far simpler if FIDIC followed the model of other standard form contracts, introducing the Commencement Date as agreed and therefore inserted into the contract particulars.
Caution must be taken when drafting the Letter of Intent: it is common for this letter to mark the beginning of on site works, though negotiations of minor issues have yet to be finalised; it is therefore critical this letter not be interpreted as the Letter of Acceptance, so drafting must be meticulous.
The Harmonised MDB Pink Book rewrites Clause 8.1, a point of interest to consider. The amended clause recognises the following conditions precedent must be complete before the works start:
The amended contract asserts the contractor's option to terminate if these matters are not dealt within 180 days of the Letter of Acceptance, introducing additional complexity to starting work and ignoring the possibility that site possession is not always necessary - or in fact advisable - at the outset of contractor works.
For those using the unamended Red Book, it is important to ensure neither party introduces additional or non-agreed terms into either the Letter of Tender or the Letter of Acceptance. The content of these letters clearly has contractual effect.
It is also important to check employer requirements and specifications interface with contractual terms as envisaged by FIDIC. The following clauses rely either on the content of the specification or generally cross-refer to the specification:
The most controversial innovation of the FIDIC 1999 Red Book is not amplification or amendment to the Extension of Time provisions but the requirement under Clause 20.1, which is a condition precedent to any claim for Extension of Time or Cost.
Reference to Clause 20.1 elsewhere in the contract demonstrates that if the contractor is not compliant he forfeits any entitlement to an extension of time or cost irrespective of relevant circumstances.
Clause 20.1 states a contractor
“shall give notice to the Engineer, describing the event or circumstances giving rise to the claim. The notice shall be given as soon as practicable, and not later than 28 days after the Contractor became aware, or should have become aware, of the event or circumstance”.
Accordingly, it is absolutely clear contractors must provide, and be alert to, notices under Clause 20.1 as soon as possible and remain so throughout the contract. The only area in which the contractor is given any leeway is where it was reasonable to conclude he could not have been aware of the event or circumstance giving rise to the entitlement to extra time and/or cost. It is suggested that a prudent contractor should adopt the practice of having at least 1 review in every 28 day period to assess whether any notice ought to be given under contract.
Although not a condition precedent of the entitlement to make a claim, Clause 20.1 requires the contractor to keep records, making those records available to the engineer.
Within 42 days of the contractor becoming aware (or should have become aware of the claim, or over a longer period if the engineer agrees, the contractor must send a fully detailed claim including supporting particulars. This claim will be treated as interim but it must be updated at monthly intervals. The final claim must be sent within 28 days after the end of the effects resulting from the event or circumstance that gave rise to the claim.
The requirements to submit this claim within 42 days and to update the claim are not conditions precedent in the same way as the initial notice, though it is clear failure to comply with this requirement will prejudice the contractor’s position.
The engineer has 42 days after receiving the claim to respond with approval or disapproval and detailed comments. Monthly payment certificates will include the amounts the Engineer approves within the Contractor’s claim.
When using a FIDIC contract, parties must consider how (i) the chosen law of contract and (ii) the local laws will affect the interpretation of the terms of the contract. Will there be a conflict between the contractual terms and the applicable law? Where necessary, amendments should be made. For example:
Additionally, the parties should consider the FIDIC clause relating to adjustments for changes in legislation.
Disputes can be adjudicated by referral to a Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB). The DAB will comprise of one of three members, the default position being three. (Clause 20.2)
How are the DAB members appointed? The contract may include a list of potential members, from which the board is selected. If three members, each party nominates one member for approval by the other party. Parties and members agree on the appointment of the third member, who will be chairman. (Clause 20.2)
The form of the DAB appointment is the General Conditions of Dispute Adjudication Agreement, as set out in the contract Appendix, entered into by the parties and the member, a Tri-Partite Agreement (TPA).
Can DAB members be replaced? Yes, parties can agree to replace a member at any time, or if a member declines to act, dies, resigns, on disability or termination of a member's appointment.
What is the effect of the DAB decision? The decision is binding, and must be complied with immediately, until revised by amicable settlement or arbitration. Parties must give effect to it. If no notice of dissatisfaction is served, it is final and binding. (Clause 20.4)
Unless settled amicably, any dispute in respect of which the DAB decision (if any) has not become final and binding shall be finally settled by international arbitration. The Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Arbitration) applies, with the appointment of three arbitrators (clause 20.6).
We are always delighted to provide you with further advice in relation to FIDIC!
This article was written by David Savage.
For more information please contact David on +44 (0)1483 252 614 or email@example.com