JCT Interviews…Peter Barnes

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.

Director, Blue Sky ADR Ltd
Member of the JCT Council
Member of the JCT Drafting Sub-Committee
Member of the JCT Construction Dispute Resolution Group

Peter Barnes Msc (Construction Law and Arbitration), DipICArb, FCIArb, FCIOB, MRICS, MCInstCES, MICE, is a Director of Blue Sky ADR Ltd, and has been actively involved in the construction industry for over 40 years. Following an extensive contracting background, in his consultancy work, Peter specialises in quantum and planning claims, contract and commercial advice, dispute avoidance and dispute resolution services in relation to the construction industry. Peter frequently gives seminars on contracts and commercial issues and also evaluates contracts and sub-contracts for construction works. Peter is a Chartered Arbitrator, a Panel Adjudicator, a Registered Mediator, a Chartered Environmentalist, and a Council Member of JCT.

Peter has had several books and articles published. Recent publications include The JCT 2011 Building Sub-Contracts, BIM in Principle and in Practice, 2nd Edition, and Delay and Disruption Claims in Construction, 3rd Edition.

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

PB: I was introduced to the JCT Council over 10 years ago, through the RICS’s Contracts Panel where I was at that time a member. Due to some restructuring by the RICS, I am now a representative of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors within the Consultants’ College of the JCT Council.

I consider it important for me to be involved with JCT as I can bring many years of wide experience working with various JCT contracts to discussions in respect of the use of, amendments to, and development of JCT contracts, sub-contracts and other documents. I have used JCT contracts in various formats for over 40 years and, as far as I am concerned, they are the bedrock of the UK construction industry.

JCT: Can you tell us about any specific work you’re currently doing with JCT – for instance, your work on JCT Training and conference in Nigeria?

PB: For many years, I have provided training on the various JCT contracts. This year JCT has launched a new initiative and is providing a range of training courses. I have been asked by JCT to present some of those courses, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to others in the construction industry in that way. Due to some of my other JCT seminars appearing on YouTube, I received an invitation from the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) to present two full day courses on JCT contracts, one in Lagos and one in Abuja. JCT contracts (albeit the 1963 RIBA / JCT version) are extensively used domestically in Nigeria and I was invited to help them start using more updated JCT Editions. The seminars were very well attended (about 550 people attending the two seminars) and there were government ministers present who were keen to push forward with the use of the updated JCT contracts. The seminars were reported in the Nigerian National Guardian Newspaper, and the JCT contracts received were recommended for use by the NIQS and will be used by the NIQS in its future examinations.

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

PB: I have many career highlights. In contracting, I particularly enjoyed working on projects of historical importance or interest, such as the Queen’s House at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, and the Ropery Building at Chatham Dockyard. By working on projects with such heritage and history, a perspective of the role that the construction industry has played and continues to play in society can be best obtained. In consultancy work, becoming a Chartered Arbitrator was a particular highlight as was the publication of several books on topics including BIM, Delay and Disruption and, of course, JCT Sub-Contracts. What I am most proud of about the construction industry as a whole is how so many different people from so many diverse disciplines and backgrounds all come together to create, in a relatively short period of time, a building or an infrastructure project through teamwork, co-operation and sheer hard work. In my view, no other industry can achieve this in the way that the construction industry does.

Where the construction industry needs to improve is through the adoption of the technological advances that are coming through (for example BIM), the acceptance of changes in the processes that are currently used (for example more off-site production), and through even more collaboration to achieve the desired results (through training and the choice of the most appropriate contract forms to be used). As an industry, we are infinitely stronger, more effective and efficient when we openly work together as a team rather than working as individuals to our own closed agendas.

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

PB: I consider that one major challenge that the construction industry will face over the next five years is lack of resources, particularly trained operatives and trained staff. Obviously, Brexit may have an impact on this matter, but in a wider sense, the construction industry needs to ‘sell itself’ to the younger generation. It must be seen for what it is – a great career opportunity in a great industry. With the technological advances that are coming through at the moment, it needs to be seen as an opportunity for younger people to get involved with a forward thinking and rapidly developing industry, rather than being held back by the ‘muck and bullets’ stereotype that may exist in some people’s minds. Obviously, combined with the need to attract young people to the construction industry, there needs to be first class training to assist people in their progression, and there also needs to be equality and opportunity for all, so that the best people are attracted to, rather than deterred from, joining the construction industry.

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

PB: In my view, JCT already plays a much wider role than simply producing contracts. In addition to the training and the guidance that JCT provides, and in addition to the promotion of the construction industry that JCT advances through its flagship events such as the Parliamentary Reception and the Povey Lecture, JCT through its very constitution encourages collaboration. The JCT Council comprises representatives from Public and Private Clients, Contractors, Consultants, Specialist Contractors and Sub-Contractors and it brings those people together to produce contracts, subcontracts and other documents that all participants agree represent a fair allocation of risk between the various parties in the construction industry. It is this general collaborative approach at JCT Council level that then emanates out to the construction industry at large and, by continuing to develop and update its contract forms, JCT is at the forefront of the collaborative approach that is so important to the future of the construction industry.