JCT Interviews…Charles Edwards

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 Chambers and Barrister at New Temple Chambers
Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors
Member of the JCT Council, ICES representative
Member of the Contracts and Dispute
Panel and the CMPC of the ICES
Member of the Technology and Construction Bar Association (TECBAR)

Charles Edwin Edwards is a practising Barrister and a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, specialising in construction and engineering law. He read interdisciplinary design in the built environment at the University of Cambridge (Departments of Engineering and Architecture) with research on UK construction contracts. At King’s College London, the Centre of Construction Law, Charles reviewed and analysed the law of costs in relation to adjudication, arbitration and construction litigation.

Charles specialises in both contentious and non-contentious construction matters, advises and acts for contractors, subcontractors, developers and consultants. He has a track record in successfully advising from inception to completion on major construction projects. These include the following sectors: building, industrial, infrastructure, office, rail, residential,mechanical and electrical, sports.

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

CE: I became a member of the JCT Council through my involvement with the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES), Contracts and Dispute Resolution Panel of which I am member.

With over 24 years of commercial and legal experience in the construction industry dealing with, amongst other things, JCT contracts, I have acquired comprehensive expertise in dealing with the complex, contractual arrangements on major construction projects and also in the resolution of disputes. All of this experience enables me to effectively represent the ICES on the JCT Council as well as contribute to the work of the JCT Council.

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)?

CE: Since joining the JCT Council in September 2019, I have been involved with the JCT Council in considering and discussing key issues in relation to the future development of JCT contracts.

JCT: Do you have any personal career highlights?

I have been fortunate to have been involved with a wide cross section of major construction projects, including the relocation works involved with the London 2012 Olympic Games, ExCel Exhibition Centre, and Crossrail. One of the many highlights of my career related to a JCT contract I drafted and amended for an employer which was challenged in arbitration and then on appeal in the High Court (Technology and Construction Court). It was found by the High Court with the amendments I made to be robust and very clearly allocated the burden of unforeseen or unknown risks.

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

CE: First of all, I have a keen interest in architectural history and design. I am proud of the construction industry in the way in which it manages to evolve, transform lives and deliver worldclass buildings which are increasingly sophisticated and smart whilst at the same time environmentally sustainable.

With regards to improvement, in my opinion the two major areas which need improvement are the adoption of collaborative working within the construction industry with the increased use of BIM and better payment practices.

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

CE: I consider the main challenges for the construction industry over the coming years to include the effective use of smart technology, health and safety in the work place, and addressing poor payment practices.

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

CE: JCT contracts are one of the most widely used in the construction industry in the UK and on that basis, it is important that the JCT contracts continue to evolve with new case law, modern methods of construction including off-site manufacturing, promote best practice, encourage prompt payment, and provide the necessary provisions in the contract to encourage an environment of collaborative working.