NEC3 ECSS: Is this the right form of contract for subcontracted surfacing or other simple works?

Is the ECSS the right form of contract for subcontract carriageway surfacing (approx £1.5million) (or for similar straight forward works) to a main Contractor on an ECC opt C?

The default seems to be to reach for the ECS due to the value but the value is only large because of the quantities involved not the level of risk or complexity.

On the basis of a comparison between the ECS and the ECSS, the ECSS would seem to be the most suitable as the surfacing contractor will not be asked to produce a programme but will be asked to attend site as and when required with 3 weeks notice for a number of visits over a period of 18months. The divison of the works between visits and the dates for these visits are almost certain to change due to other trades and own labour operations not all of which will be a CE in the contract with the Employer.

Both the Contractor and the Subcontractor are happy with this arrangement of notice and visits, but are there any pitfalls that anyone has come across?


As you have said, the works are low complexity and, from what you have said, having a full programme for these subcontract works would be an overkill as would operating a number of other provisions of the full ECS so, despite the £1.5m value, the Engineering & Construction Short Subcontract seems more appropriate.

Assuming there is no significant Subcontractor design, the only downside I can think of, off the top of my head, is from the main Contractor’s point of view and that is not having an absolute back-to-back contract in place. However, having that in place would either lead to unnecessary professional time administrating it (for both Parties) or, more likely, not doing so and therefore being in breach of contract.