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Responsiveness to change by standard-form contract drafters: A case study of the FIDIC White Book

By S. Raj, J.B. Hillig and W. Hughes

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on the Fédération Internationale des Ingénieurs-Conseils (FIDIC) White Book standard form of building contract. It tracks the changes to this contract over its four editions, and seeks to identify their underlying causes. Design/methodology/approach – The changes made to the White Book are quantified using a specific type of quantitative content analysis. The amended clauses are then examined to understand the nature of the changes made. Findings – The length of the contract increased by 34 per cent between 1990 and 2006. A large proportion of the overall increase can be attributed to the clauses dealing with “conflict of interest/corruption” and “dispute resolution”. In both instances, the FIDIC drafting committees have responded to international developments to discourage corruption, and to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution. Between 1998 and 2006, the average length of the sentences increased slightly, raising the question of whether long sentences are easily understood by users of contracts. Research limitations/implications – Quantification of text appears to be particularly useful for the analysis of documents which are regularly updated because changes can be clearly identified and the length of sentences can be determined, leading to conclusions about the readability of the text. However, caution is needed because changes of great relevance can be made to contract clauses without actually affecting their length. Practical implications – The paper will be instructive for contract drafters and informative for users of FIDIC's White Book. Originality/value – Quantifying text has been rarely used regarding standard-form contracts in the field of construction

Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:12347
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