NEC 4 - Contractor proposes an alternative product & Client does not Accept - query on responsibility

In the Works Information a type of natural stone slab has been proposed, including supplier & brand of slab.
The Contractor has provided a copy of a purchase order showing it is ordered.
Now at time of delivery the Contractor has confirmed the supplier does not have sufficient stock, due to the quarry coming to the end of it’s life.
An alternative has been proposed which is similar, but does have some differences.
The Client does not plan to accept due to the colour.

Had the Client accepted the alternative I view it that the risk/issue is all the Contractor’s risk, however if the Client does not accept the alternative where does the responsibility lie for the change, the cost & programme?

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If it’s not in accordance with the specification stated in the Works Information then it would be classed as a Defect. Cl 11.2.(5) is clear that a Defect is “a part of the works which is not in accordance with the Works Information”. The Contractor can make a proposal to the PM in writing to accept an alternative proposal. Cl.44.1 allows the PM to accept a Defect, in doing so they would logically want a cost reduction for the Contractors failure to meet the original specification. They would also rightly ask why the Contractor can’t procure the stone to the original Works Information specification from an alternative quarry. Really this all hinges on how reasonable the PM is willing to be on the matter, they can accept an alternative product and change the Works Information, but there is no obligation to do so.

This scenario could potentially lead to Prevention (Cl.19). Suppose there are simply no quarries able to provide the stone in the specification and the PM will not accept alternatives, then the Contractor is potentially in Prevention. This could in theory lead to the Contractor notify a CE under Cl.60.1.(19). This would be an unusual route and a failure of both parties under Cl.10.1. The Contractor is in the risky position here and needs to work with the PM to find an alternative and put forward a written proposal for the PM to accept, and change the Works Information (not a CE under Cl.60.1.(1))

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