JCT Interviews…Carys Rowlands

In this series we shed some light on some of the key people who are involved with or give their time to support JCT, to ensure that all areas of the construction industry are represented and can contribute to the development of our contracts. We will look at how our interviewees contribute to JCT specifically, and gain their views on JCT’s wider role within the industry.

Head of Professional Standards, RIBA

Member, JCT Council, RIBA Representative

Alternate, JCT Board

Carys Rowlands is Head of Professional Standards at the RIBA. Carys’ work for the RIBA involves professional conduct issues, dispute resolution services, specialist accreditation, ethics in architectural practice and equality, diversity & inclusion. Carys has written publications in collaboration with the UN Global Compact titled ‘The UN Sustainable Development Goals in Practice’ and ‘Ethics in Architectural Practice’. Carys also works to raise the standards of professional conduct expected of RIBA members and the architecture profession more broadly and has worked closely with other professional bodies and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority to tackle modern slavery in construction.

 JCT: Carys, how did you first come to be involved with JCT? Why do you think it is important to be involved?

CR: When I took on my role at the RIBA a little over three years ago, I took on responsibility for sitting on the JCT Council from my predecessor. It was one of the first formal commitments I was contacted about. From my work on professional conduct matters and my role in overseeing the RIBA’s dispute resolution services, I know how critical it is for the construction industry to ensure they are consistently using written forms of appointment and building contracts. JCT is a major and quality player in the standard form contract market and I think it is important to have a broad range of people and expertise involved in drafting, reviewing and scrutinising those contracts to make them as good and balanced as they can be for the construction industry.

JCT: Can you tell us about any specific work you’re currently doing with JCT (e.g. any work with working groups/committees/Council/Board)?

CR: I sit on JCT Council within the Consultants’ College. I am also an alternate on the JCT Board, so am involved in strategic decisions, representing the RIBA and the interests of its membership on the one side, and am occasionally called in as an alternate on the Board, where more operational decisions are made.

JCT: Do you have any personal career highlights?

CR: During my time at the RIBA I have had a couple of career highlights: one was being the staff lead for the Ethics and Sustainable Development Commission – researching ethics and sustainable development with a group of experts to make recommendations for the future of the profession; the other was overhauling the RIBA Code of Professional Conduct and Code of Practice – carefully and holistically raising standards within the profession, as well as providing guidance and information to support architects in practice. The revision of the Codes also provided the opportunity to really emphasise and embed the importance of using written contracts on all projects, making it a requirement for all RIBA members and Chartered Practices.

JCT: What are you most proud of about the construction industry as a whole and where do you think it most needs to improve?

CR: The answer to these questions is the same – ethics and sustainable development. I am really proud of how far the construction industry has come in the last 10 years or so – from the modern slavery charter to supply chain mapping to net zero carbon by 2030 – the industry seems to be waking up to its impact and its responsibilities. Having said that, much more still needs to be done as we begin the ‘decade of action’ for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

JCT: What do you see as the main challenges for the construction industry over the next five years?

CR: Over the next five years there are several challenges for the industry – making serious progress towards net zero carbon targets, embedding health and life safety competencies in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, tackling modern slavery in construction, and adapting post-Brexit (whatever that may mean in terms of skilled labour, materials and laws/regulations).

JCT: Does JCT have a wider role to play in the industry beyond producing contracts?

CR: The JCT has a strong reputation and, as one of the major producers of contracts, it has an important role to play. The construction industry often suffers from lots of organisations and groups expanding their remits and duplicating the work of others. There is real value in organisations who are dedicated to a particular function or role and who make it their focus to do it really well. I think JCT is one of those organisations – it has a diverse remit in the realm of construction contracts and the value of providing quality contracts for the industry should not be underestimated or diluted.