Is there an ongoing role for the contract Superintendent?

The general conditions of contract for many forms of construction or engineering contracts require the Principal to appoint a person to act on its behalf in the dual role of agent and independent certifier.

A person appointed in such a capacity under an Australian standard form contract is commonly referred to as the Superintendent. The Superintendent is not a party to the contract, but a person named in the contract and given certain functions under the contract.

These functions include acting as agent for the Principal in conveying the Principal’s instructions to the Contractor, and as certifier for the purpose of issuing certificates and making decisions as to reasonable measures or values of work, quantities or time.

The provisions under the standard form contracts AS 2124–1992 and AS 4000–1997 generally require the Superintendent to follow due process under the contract, while acting in an even handed, independent and impartial manner.

For example, AS 2124–1992 requires the Superintendent to act ‘honestly and fairly’, and AS 4000–1997 requires the Superintendent to fulfil his role and functions ‘reasonably and in good faith’.

The dual role of the Superintendent has been the subject of much comment and criticism from Principals, Contractors and the Judiciary.

The Superintendent style contract is viewed by some as unsustainable, inequitable, adversarial, ineffective and inefficient. As a consequence, there is a move by some Principals to adopt new contractual models, some more relationship based, others potentially more onerous in nature.

Contract Control International conducts three workshops that focus on the core skill areas required to develop Superintendents into effective contract administrators.

The areas addressed during the courses include contractual and legal skills, commercial skills, management, interpersonal skills, decision making, writing skills and following due process. Further information on these courses can be found in the brochure within this edition of FOCUS or at www.ccintl.com.au

*George Strohfeldt is a Principal at Contract Control International. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia, a Chartered Professional Engineer and a Certified Local Government Engineer.