As reported in our March 2016 edition, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DEPR) has published revised arrangements for procuring public works.As part of these revisions a new model form for the appointment of a standing conciliator has also been published. The revisions took effect from 4 April 2016 and are set out in Circular 01/16 ("Construction Procurement - revision of arrangements for the procurement of public works projects").

New appointment form

The new conciliator appointment form sets out the terms and conditions upon which the standing conciliator should be engaged. It applies to parties using public works contract forms PWC-CF1 to PWC-CF4 where the contract sum exceeds €10 million (optional appointment below €10 million). The appointment should be completed having regard to these new contract forms and to the associated new guidance note relating to dispute resolution within the Capital Works Management Framework.

Standing conciliator - new role

The standing conciliator will act as conciliator for all disputes referred to conciliation under these contracts. The individual is appointed by mutual agreement or, failing agreement, by the appointing body referred to in the contract.

The intention is that the standing conciliator will encourage active engagement between the parties to avoid formal, lengthy and costly disputes. Where disputes arise, the standing conciliator will then act as a conciliator to resolve them. Generally, where disputes are not resolved by agreement within 42 days following referral to conciliation, the standing conciliator will issue its recommendation.

The new role of standing conciliator forms part of an overall stepped dispute resolution process, which also features a project board, arbitration and litigation.

New bond form

The model form bond for conciliation recommendation has also been updated.

Conclusion

Contracting authorities, professionals and those involved on public sector construction projects should familiarise themselves with these new obligations for procuring public works projects. The new model forms and guidance note are available on DEPR’s website. Contracting authorities must use these forms where procuring projects or works from 4 April 2016, unless the prescribed derogation outlined in Circular 01/16 applies.