A New Construction Contract for the 21st Century: Information Flow


By Keith Pickavance 

London, UK

In the fifth article in this series we look at how the CIOB’s Complex Project Contract deals with communications and information flow. 

Historic perspective 

Apart from a telegram (the service for which started around the same time) the only generally available method of communication available in 1871, when the first standard form of building contract was published, was a postal service which required information to be written down on paper and directed to a physical delivery address.

By the late 1950s, telephone companies in certain parts of the world had begun to offer a telex communication system in which a typed input at one end of the line would be reproduced at the other end at the rate of about 70 words/minute. The next decade saw the advent of the fax machine, by which a scanned document consisting of both text and black and white images could be digitally reproduced at the other end of a telephone line.  By 1993 the beginning of the internet-based email system had become available.

Increased speed and sophistication of computers and digital communications over the last 20 years or so have now rendered it relatively easy to transfer anything that can be digitised (including moving pictures, in colour and with sound), virtually instantaneously to any part of the world, and to facilitate contribution by a number of contributors from anywhere in the world to data held in a remote repository, to which they all have access.

To the construction and civil engineering industries, this change from paper to digital-based communications probably took off in the 1980s with the invention of computer aided design and drawing software (“CADD”) capable of being run on a micro-computer.  3D modelling swiftly followed, now developed into Building Information Modelling in which, what were two- or three-dimensional symbols in a CADD system, also now contain quantities and cost data. We are thus far removed from the communications techniques available to our 19th century counterparts operating the first standard form of building contract.

Electronic communications 

Unlike the old-fashioned attitude to electronic communications taken by other standard forms (some of which anticipate that some form of electronic communication is possible, in some circumstances, but generally expect all drawing schedules and programmes and other documentation to be in hard copy), CPC2013 assumes that all correspondence will be by digital electronic communication.

Electronic communications under CPC2013 are required to be made either by File Transfer Protocol (which governs how electronic files are uploaded and downloaded), or through a Common Data Environment that permits users to access data held remotely on a server, or by  email (bearing a project related subject code to aid in its management).


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Editor’s note: This article is one in a series by Keith Pickavance about the CIOB’s new contract for complex construction projects. For information about the new contract, visit http://www.ciob.org.uk/CPC.  The full article includes footnotes for quotations and section references.

About the Author

keith-pickavanceflag-ukKeith Pickavance

Keith Pickavance first qualified as an architect in 1972 and then in 1978 obtained a law degree. After 20 years as an architect in private practice the last 10 years of which also involved construction management, dispute resolution and expert witness services, in 1993 he joined an American company specialising in forensic services and delay analysis. In 1996 he set up on his own again specialising in delay analysis and time management in London and Hong Kong. That practice was acquired by Hill International in 2006, an international construction management and claims consultancy with which he is now appointed an Executive Consultant.  He is a Past President of the Chartered Institute of Building and has led the CIOB’s time management initiative since its inception in 2007.  Keith is the author of Delay and Disruption in Construction Contracts (4th ed., 2010, Sweet and Maxwell) and numerous other books and articles on delay related issues.   Contact [email protected]