To Be, or Not to NEC: That is the Question - Part 1 – Use of the NEC Contract in Australia

Forensic & Litigation Consulting | Construction

January 25, 2019

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It is understood that in 2018, Main Roads WA elected to use the 3rd edition of the NEC New Engineering and Construction Contract for the ‘Pithara’ package of its Great Northern Highway upgrade project. Seemingly, this is the first time the NEC has been used in Western Australia.

The NEC is not a new concept. It was first issued in its consultative form in 1991, and the first edition was published two years later in 1993. In July 1994, Sir Michael Latham’s renowned report ‘Constructing the Team’ that was commissioned by the UK Government in collaboration with the construction industry and its professions recommended, amongst other things, that the NEC should become a national standard contract across the whole of the construction and engineering industry in general.


In 2014, the Australian and Western Australian Governments announced that detailed planning was underway for a $345 million upgrade of the 218 km section of Great Northern Highway between Muchea and Wubin (“Project”). The Project is a planning, design and construction program being delivered collaboratively by an integrated project team, comprised of Main Roads WA and industry partner, the Arup Jacobs Joint Venture.1

The Pithara package, one of nine packages being progressed under the $345 million scheme, includes upgrading a 16-kilometre section of the Great Northern highway from Gatti Road to north of Pithara to enhance road safety and efficiency.2 The Australian Government is providing $275 million towards the Project, with the WA Government providing the remaining $69 million.2

In this three-part series, we discuss the use of the NEC on construction and engineering projects in Australia and globally, looking at the following:

  • Part 1 – Use of the NEC in Australia
  • Part 2 – Arrangement of the NEC
  • Part 3 – The core clauses of the NEC

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