This book is aimed primarily at students for whom the study of building or civil engineering contracts forms part of a construction-based course. We have had in mind the syllabus requirements for first degrees in Building, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Quantity Surveying and Building Surveying, as well as those of postgraduate courses in Construction Management and Project Management. We have also assumed that such students will already have been introduced to the general principles of English law, especially those relating to contract and tort. As a result, while aspects of those subjects that are of particular relevance to construction are dealt with here, the reader must look elsewhere for the general legal background.
In producing this fourth edition, we have again been greatly assisted by the many helpful comments made by reviewers and users of its predecessor. We are particularly indebted to Jan-Bertram Hillig, who has patiently and diligently guided us through recent changes in standard-form contracts and, in so doing, has also made many other helpful suggestions. Nonetheless, our basic aim is identical to that which underpinned the first edition: to provide an explanation of the fundamental principles of construction contract law, rather than a clause-by-clause analysis of any particular standard-form contract. As a result, while we draw most frequently upon JCT SBC 05 for our illustrations of particular points, this merely reflects the pre-eminent position occupied by that particular form of contract in the UK construction industry.
We conclude by repeating our previous warning as to the dangers inherent in a little learning. Neither this book, nor the courses for which it is intended, seek to produce construction lawyers. The objective is rather to enable those who are not lawyers to resolve simple construction disputes before they become litigious, and to recognize when matters require professional legal advice. It should be the aim of every construction student to understand the legal framework sufficiently that they can instruct and brief specialist lawyers and this book is designed to help them towards that understanding.