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New NZS3910 Contract Adopted For Auckland District Court Remediation

Crown infrastructure delivery company, Rau Paenga has become an early adopter of Standards New Zealand’s latest construction contract, NZS3910:2023.

It recently used a modified version of the new form to award a contract to LT McGuinness Auckland for the seismic strengthening of the 38-year-old Auckland District Court building, which it is delivering for the Ministry of Justice.

Auckland District Court. Photo/Supplied. 

“The new NZS3910 contract offers some real benefits,” says Rau Paenga Development Director, Martin Shelton.

“This latest version promotes greater collaboration between the parties and a more balanced risk allocation. It also explicitly provides for additional mutual early notification obligations and prompt resolution of matters before disputes arise.

“NZS3910:2023 provides an option to cap the Contractor’s overall liability and Contractor indemnities are now expressly fault-based too, significantly narrowing the Contractor’s overall exposure.”

Martin says this latest, fourth version of the contract, published last November, also addresses sector concerns around the Engineer to the Contract role, specifically a perceived lack of independence and the balancing of challenges inherent in that role.

The Engineer to the Contract’s dual role can now be split and replaced with two roles:

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• an Independent Certifier (IC), who acts fairly, impartially and independently in making decisions – Rau Paenga has just appointed Michael Ward to this role for the seismic strengthening project; and

• a Contract Administrator (CA), who acts for and on behalf of the Principal giving instructions – Rau Paenga has extended RDT Pacific’s project management scope for the seismic strengthening project, confirming Ben Dalton to this role.

“Although NZS3910:2023 doesn’t mandate that the CA and IC must be different appointments, we have embraced the intent of this change by making separate appointments, to more clearly separate decision making and contact administration functions,” says Martin.

The new contract has also been modernised to use more straightforward language and common industry terminology. Amendments to the general conditions, where necessary, can be made directly in the conditions themselves avoiding the need to refer to two separate documents.

Martin is in no doubt that as the industry gets more familiar with the NZS3910:2023 contract and it proves its worth, the need for the all-too-common raft of additions should reduce, further speeding up the contracting process.

David Wilkie, the Chair of the 3910 Revision Committee, says the committee is taking a keen interest in the uptake and use of the new standard. “I’m delighted to see Rau Paenga proactively adopting NZS3910:2023. This is a welcome response from a leading government agency demonstrating that they are listening and responding positively to feedback from the construction industry,” says David.”

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