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Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada finalizing update of contract documents

Patricia Williams

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC) is finalizing an update of its suite of standard contract documents to bring them in line with Document 31, the prime agreement between client and engineer, which was revised in 2009.

“This suite is a tribute to what we believe is fair and equitable contract language,” president John Gamble told the association’s annual general meeting.

A revised version of document 32, the sub-consultant agreement, has already been completed. Waiting in the wings are document 35 (project management services), 36 (studies and reports) and 39 (owner and owner’s engineer for design-build projects).

In an interview, Gamble said revisions have been completed by the ACEC’s contracts committee. The documents now must be translated into French, formatted and formally approved by the association’s board of directors. Gamble said the intent is to post the documents on the ACEC’s website this fall.

“What we have basically been doing is going through the process of updating the rest of the suite of documents to harmonize them with the principles of document 31 and make sure they reflect the current state of law and technology in Canada.”

Gamble said it is critical that contractual agreements provide for a “fair and equitable” sharing of risk and reward between consulting engineers and their clients.

“We find that agreements proposed by owners are frequently very one-sided, particularly pertaining to the allocation of risk,” he said. “Even more risky is the absence of a written agreement.”

The ACEC documents are most commonly used by private-sector clients.

“We, as an industry, would certainly like to see more consistency in the agreements that are signed, particularly with public-sector clients,” Gamble said.

The annual general meeting told place during the ACEC’s recent summit at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort in Prince Edward Island.

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