Relationship with sectional completion dates and planned completion

We are on a nec 4 option a.

We’re in dispute with our client concerning how sectional completion dates work and link with planned and contract completion date for approval of cl31 and how to move forward with an instruction changing part of these.

1st question on programme:
Would there be a separate planned completion date for each sectional completion date that links the to the contract completion date or would all the sectional completion dates be linked to one planned completion date which then links to contract completion date with any relevant terminal float between?

2nd question:
The programme shows a phased start to certain works as the client carries out enabling works in other areas whilst we’re on site. The client are ahead of programme and are giving earlier access to the whole site. They have written this in instruction, it’s important to note they have instructed earlier access not a move in sectional completion dates. Our response is that theyhave introduced float in our programme as we have opportunity to complete areas earlier. The issue comes around a separate z clause that allows the client to reduce prelim costs if our planned completion is ahead of contract completion at end of project. They believe we should be working in more areas at once to beat the programme to give them the cost saving.

With regards to your first question, X5 states that each reference and clause relevant to Completion and Completion Date applies to either the whole of the works or to any section, as the case may be; therefore, in my view, you would have planned Completion dates and “terminal” float for each section.

The second question is not a simple one. Just to make clear that we are talking about the access date (italics) stated in the CD part 1. This can only be superseded by a later (not earlier) access date shown in the Accepted Programme. Therefore, I cannot see how the Client can instruct an earlier access date - this is a change to the Contract that can only be agreed by the Parties (see cl. 12.3).

I assume your Client has introduced the z-clause, partly in order to discourage excessive terminal float, and of course to share a cost saving. I cannot imagine how this would work in practice, because in each revised programme the planned Completion date would possibly move and a frequent adjustment of the prelims in the AS (and to the tendered total of the Prices) would be required. Besides that, if your planned Completion delays and in the end coincides with the Completion Date, you cannot be penalised. A target cost contract maybe is more suitable to their needs.

In any case, I believe that you should consider the issue of the access date above before replying to your client.