NEC ECC: Role of the Supervisor - How far are the 'testing requirements' defined in the Works Information?

How far do you go to define ‘testing requirements’ in the Works Information?

I’m referring here to the Supervisor’s role in overseeing that all testing requirements have been carried out during the Contract - and the role of the Contract compiler to define exactly what is required.

Consider, as a simple example, the provision of concrete kerb units for a large highways scheme.

Which one of the following Options is regarded as best practice for the Compiler to include in the works information.

Option 1 - “All work shall be in accordance with current Regulations” (I’ve seen this catch-all statement on a number of projects. It does little to help the either party, and is often the cause of dispute).

Option 2 - All work shall be in accordance with the Specification for Highway Works - i.e. leaving the Supervisor to delve further to identify specific testing and records required. (This statement still leaves the requirements ambiguous - and Is open to dispute).

Options 3 - The Contractor is required to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of Appendix 11/1 Kerbs Footways and Paved Areas. (This leaves the requirements ambiguous and open to contractual dispute, particularly given an over-zealous Supervisor).

Option 4 - The Contractor is required to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of BS EN 1340 Concrete kerb units - Requirements and test methods. (This still leaves some ambiguity at to what the Client specifically requires in terms of evidence of compliance).

or finally,

Option 5 - “The Contractor is required to demonstrate compliance with BS EN 1340 (2003) Part 8 - Testing Report”. (This makes it clear to the Supervisor what is required by the contract - and easy to confirm compliance (or otherwise).)

A number of commentators have also suggested that Overseeing Organisations simply appoint a competent Contractor, operating (say) under an !SO 9001 Quality Management System - and do no more further checks for compliance. Effectively neutering the role of the Supervisor.

Your views, experiences would be very welcomed.

Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to respond. Much appreciated.


To my mind ‘best practice’ is providing information which appropriately describes the Employer’s (or Client’s) requirements. Remember that the Employer is responsible for providing the (his) Works Information (Scope) and it should be comprehensive enough to convey any particular detail, but also clear, relevant and precise. This would include any important test and inspection requirements.

When including an obligation in a contract document, think about how you would go about fulfilling it. That way you try to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstanding, which could easily lead to a dispute situation. It doesn’t matter how competent a contractor is, if you have described a requirement that is ambiguous and open to interpretation then you will get just that, ambiguity !!

How important are the testing requirements? How much will they cost? Is it clear what both the Contractor and Supervisor are required to do? Get everything peer reviewed as well. I have been involved in a significant number of disputes, simply because of inconsistencies or lack of detail in the contract documentation.

I would suggest Option 2 above. I cannot see how this can give rise to dispute, as a quick search of the relevant section relating to kerbs shows only four references to testing, and in each case the reference is to testing in accordance with a stated BS EN.

I would advise strongly against Option 3, because the contract-specific appendices to the SHW only apply when the core clauses of the SHW refer to them, so information contained in the Appendix, but not referenced in the core clauses, arguably is not ‘enforceable’.

Option 5 is effectively what the SHW does.

I would tend to agree that in most cases nowadays testing is carried out as part of a supplier’s QMS and certified accordingly - I know ‘old school’ Supervisors may well question the degree of assurance that such certification gives, but at the end of the day it is what the SHW requires.

Much appreciated, Dave.

I share your views here, Andrew. I am of the opinion that testing and inspections should be itemised in the Works Information rather than brought in by reference to third party documents.