NEC3 Professional Service Contracts (PSC) have become an increasingly popular form of appointment, giving rise to the use of Early Warning Notices. Under NEC, both Architects and Clients are required to provide notice of any increase in costs or delay to works as soon as they become aware of them. If foreseeable problems are not raised within the contractual timescale, Architects will not be entitled to any compensation (unless of course the issue was one the Client themselves should have flagged).
In our experience working on complex projects for Architects appointed under NEC PSCs, Plan A have learnt to appreciate the value of using Early Warning Notices as soon as problems arise. We recommend that Architects appointed under NEC contracts take the following steps to help safeguard themselves:
Raise an Early Warning Notice a soon as a foreseeable problem becomes apparent
Hold an Early Warning meeting to discuss how to manage any potential design, cost and programme impacts by establishing a series of mitigation options.
Formally agree the mitigation option(s) with the Client and identify whether this will require additional time and/or resource.
If you receive an Early Warning from the Client, moving quickly is again crucial to avoid paying the cost for problems which could have been resolved and avoided through early review and discussion.