NEC3 ECC: Avoiding administering the contract by text messages

Our in-house communication systems are not mature enough to administer the ECC contract be receiving txt messages from the Contractor.

We have not specified unique communication protocols in the Works Information (we seldom know these details at tender stage), rather we address the issue in the Pre-start meeting with the Contractor - telling him the contact details of the Project Manager and the Supervisor.

As a safety measure, the Contractor is provided with both the e-mail address and mobile telephone numbers of the PM and Supervisor - the mobile number provided for emergency issues.

The Contractor is stating that the communication protocol is unclear, and that txt messages are an acceptable mechanism (13.1).

We can issue a notification to clarify the protocol (i.e. e-mail only) (13.2) but the Contractor has stated that this would result him incurring additional costs than were originally envisaged - and has verbally indicated his intention to notify a compensation event. Seemingly, e-mails will require that Contractor’s site agent to return to his office each day, rather than providing a txt message from site. (Incurring additional travel and time costs).

Will the PM have to accommodate this Compensation Event?

I would NOT agree that texts are a valid form of communication as they do not comply with clause 10.1 which requires every communication to be in a form that can be read, copied AND recorded. An email is however (just about) OK, although I would not recommend running a whole job on emails (if I was writing an early warning, I would not want to put the content in an email, but email a completed standard pro-forma that includes all the information about that early warning).

In the days of technology that we are, if they can get a phone signal to send you a text then they can use that same phone signal to send an email from that phone. I would instruct them to do this, and reject the principles that this is a compensation event. If they really want they could then take this to adjudication - which I suspect they wont knowing a) they are probably wrong, and b) there is not actually that much cost associated anyway.

This Contractor should be making sure they are complying with ways of improving flow of communication and mutual understanding - not putting blockers in the way.

Thanks for your reply, Glenn.

The Contractor is of the opinion that texts comply with 10.1 in that they can be read, copied and recorded - the latter two being achievable by providing us with a copy sim card from their dedicated mobile phone.

Tiring - but we’ve learnt our lesson for future Contracts.

All I would say is that you are the Employer and you should be telling the Contractor what is and is not acceptable to you. They will be running a very risky strategy to refuse. It should be read copied and recorded at the same time of issue - so unless they are going to give you a copy sim card with every text this is still not acceptable.

Agreed. Thanks for taking the time to reply, Glenn.