What are the key differences between “ordinary” construction contracts and “long-term project” arrangements?

Table of Content

Ordinary v Long Term


Here is a list:

  • The obvious one – it’s in the title! Duration. The construction of the physical facility is just the starting point. Perhaps the contract envisages long-term operation – typically 20-25 years. Parties have to “live with each other”!
  • “Employer” usually a public authority procuring high-cost infrastructure: typically, utility/transport/energy.
  • Nature of work: large scale and physically complex/challenging – that shapes the kinds of practical problems that produce disputes.
  • Legal issues flowing from government/public sector involvement: overlay of public law and regulation. Public procurement; complex regulatory backdrop. Regulatory and fiscal environment often under control of the Employer itself! Can be a very unequal relationship, and a politicised one.
  • Long duration means assumptions/objectives behind “base case” likely to change fundamentally over life of a project.
  • Contract structures – very complicated with multiple competing interests. Compare an ordinary construction project with a PFI (private finance initiative) project.
  • Relationship with standard forms of construction contracts. By way of example, see diagram 1 “traditional construction project” and diagram 2 “long-term PPP project”.

Screenshot2022 11 11at08.47.28 ContractsScreenshot2022 11 11at08.47.28 Contracts

The comparison of construction contracts was discussed in our webinar on 25 March 2021 with Gordon Nardell QC, Twenty Essex and Sue Kim, HKA.  Click here to view the webinar and detailed notes.

How can Barton Legal help?

At Barton Legal we have extensive experience in all the standard contract forms, including JCT as well as NEC, IChemE, and FIDIC.

We believe that an increased understanding of contractual terms and the roles and responsibilities of all parties ensures a successful conclusion to a project, which is why we always use plain English and ensure you understand and can apply the terms of your contract.

Our aim is to reduce legal gobbledegook and increase collaboration between parties to increase the prospects of completing your project on time and on budget.

We place great emphasis in the early stages of the contract on understanding and preparing thoroughly in order to avoid costly disputes later.

If you have any queries regarding any of these contracts or any form of construction dispute, please do not hesitate to get in touch by email construction@bartonlegal.com  or call our office on 0113 202 9550.