The NEC Contract Board announced last week that a new NEC4 contract suite would be made available following the NEC Users’ Group Annual Seminar on 22 June 2017.

NEC4 is said to be an “evolution” on NEC3, incorporating best practice lessons learned from both the client and supplier sides in using the current NEC3 forms. The NEC4 suite will be capable of being used on international projects and are generally intended to provide greater flexibility. Key benefits of NEC4 are stated as:

  • streamlined processes;
  • improved contract administration;
  • greater clarity;
  • BIM and early contractor involvement provision; and
  • improved risk processes.

Although there are few details yet about the specific changes in NEC4 compared with NEC3, one notable new aspect of the NEC4 suite is the introduction of two new contracts:

  • the Design, Build and Operate Contract for procurement of “whole-life” delivery projects where design, construction, operation and/or maintenance can be provided by a single supplier; and
  • the Alliance Contract which will be a multi-party collaborative agreement entered into by the delivery team and is intended for use on larger scale and complex projects.

A consultative version of the Alliance Contract is expected to be issued shortly.

Looking ahead and with NEC3 usage now well established throughout the industry, particularly on publicly funded projects, it will be interesting to see whether the move to NEC4 increases the overall attractiveness for projects procured under NEC terms. Assuming that any changes in NEC4 simply improve and update NEC3, it appears inevitable that NEC4 will quickly replace NEC3.