Float is the time available for an activity in addition to its planned duration. Recently a client queried who has the benefit of float under the NEC contract. I dusted off the default legal answer: it depends. Here is a brief summary.

  1. Time risk allowances: these are the differences between the quickest time an activity may be completed and the realistic time allowed on the programme. These allowances are owned by the contractor and the NEC guidance states that they should not be deemed to be float at all. Employers should note that it may be possible for contractors to ‘roll-up’ unused allowances and transfer them to later activities.
  2. Activity float: if an activity on the programme has float, it is not a critical path activity. If the employer issues an instruction he can use the float. If the contractor’s delay happens first, he benefits from the float. The float, therefore, is used up on a first-come, first-served basis.
  3. Terminal float: clause 63.3 is clear. The contractor owns terminal float because if planned completion is delayed due to a compensation event, the Completion Date is delayed by the same period.

It is also worth bearing in mind that float does not deprive the contractor’s entitlement to loss and expense.