BIM & MMC 2024: Reshaping Construction Contracts

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17 January, 2024

Adam Estell
Trainee Solicitor

Building Information Modelling and Modern Methods of Construction: Key Contractual Considerations

The construction industry in England and Wales is undergoing a transformative phase, with Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) reshaping traditional practices. This is on our radar for 2024's hot topics, particularly given the now widespread use of BIM and the positive environmental impacts that MMC provides over traditional construction methods. These factors, in addition to the Government's stance on pushing for wider adoption of MMC, mean that usage of BIM and MMC is tipped to increase dramatically in the coming years.

This trend is not only altering the landscape of construction itself, but is also influencing construction law, particularly in alignment with the UK Government's Construction Playbook. Year on year the use of BIM and MMC has increasingly come to the fore, bringing with it the importance of ensuring construction contracts are up to the task.

BIM's Integration into Construction Law

BIM, a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building, has revolutionised project management, collaboration, and information sharing in the construction sector. Its impact on construction law is multifaceted. One notable change is the emphasis on the collaborative nature of BIM processes, encouraging parties to work together transparently and share information throughout a project's lifecycle.

Contractual arrangements must adapt to accommodate BIM requirements, emphasising collaborative working, data-sharing protocols, and defining responsibilities for the creation and maintenance of the BIM model. Traditional construction contracts can be ill-equipped to deal with the issues that BIM presents, and it's important to ensure that documentation is prepared with these modern methodologies in mind.

MMC and Contractual Adaptations

The rise of MMC, including modular and off-site construction, challenges traditional construction methodologies. Off-site construction methods can significantly impact project timelines, costs, and risk allocation. As these methods become more prevalent, construction contracts must adapt to address the unique legal considerations they introduce.

Contracts now need to address issues such as the quality assurance of off-site manufactured components, transportation logistics, and the coordination of on-site assembly. Allocation of risk in the event of delays or defects originating from the off-site construction process becomes a crucial aspect of contract drafting and negotiation.

The Construction Playbook recognises the benefits of MMC, promoting its use to drive efficiency, sustainability, and innovation in construction projects. Legal frameworks are responding by incorporating provisions that reflect the unique challenges and opportunities presented by these modern methods.

Standardisation and Legal Certainty

With BIM and MMC gaining traction, the need for standardised contractual frameworks becomes apparent. The Construction Playbook emphasises the importance of standardised contracts, promoting consistency and clarity in contractual arrangements. Standardisation helps parties navigate the complexities introduced by BIM and MMC by providing a familiar and understood contractual base.

Incorporating standardised contracts into construction law facilitates a smoother transition to the collaborative and technologically driven approaches encouraged by the Construction Playbook. These contracts often include provisions specific to BIM requirements and MMC, offering legal certainty and reducing the potential for disputes arising from ambiguities in contract terms.

Dispute Resolution in the Digital Age

The digitisation of construction processes through BIM introduces new dimensions to dispute resolution. Legal frameworks are adapting to accommodate the resolution of disputes arising from issues such as data breaches, intellectual property concerns, or disagreements over BIM model ownership and use. Whilst caselaw in this area has so far been limited, we expect this to change in the not-so-distant future.

As the construction industry in England and Wales embraces BIM and MMC, construction law is undergoing a paradigm shift. The principles outlined in the Construction Playbook are influencing contractual arrangements, risk allocation, standardisation, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

The Construction team at Forbes Solicitors are experts in preparing construction contracts and all associated documentation in the sector to ensure that your contracts are fit for BIM and MMC projects. Given the changes being brought about by the Building Safety Act and the forthcoming JCT updates, now may be a suitable time to consider implementing new standardised contracts. From drafting to negotiating, we will be able to help your business' construction projects run smoothly.

For more information contact Adam Estell in our Construction & Infrastructure department via email or phone on 0113 386 2706. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Construction & Infrastructure department here

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