In the JCT Interviews… series we shine the spotlight on some of the key people who are involved with or give their time to support JCT, showing the diverse range of disciplines across the construction industry that our members represent and the collaborative work that contributes to the development of our contracts. We look at how our interviewees contribute to JCT specifically and gain their views on the wider industry and JCT’s role within it.
vice-chair, JCT Council
Current job title and company: director, Quantex Consulting Ltd
Sean Smylie has spent the majority of his career in the contracting side of the industry undertaking various commercial roles including that of commercial director of a significant contracting organisation. Currently, Sean is a director of Quantex Consulting Ltd, a niche construction consultancy based in the West Midlands. His work these days predominantly relates to dispute resolution and, in particular, acting as an adjudicator in construction and engineering disputes. Consequently, he has lots of exposure to JCT contracts.
JCT: Sean, how did you first come to be involved with JCT? Why do you think it is important to be involved?
SS: I became involved with JCT through the Construction Federation a number of years ago and joined the Contractor’s College. I recognised the importance of having fair and balanced construction contracts that represented all sectors of the industry and wanted to play a part in that process. I think that it is important to remember that the majority of users of JCT contracts are small-to-medium enterprises who are comfortable using our tried and tested contracts.
JCT: Congratulations on your appointment as vice-chair of JCT Council. Are there any specific projects/areas of interest/or activities that you are looking forward to working on or being involved with?
SS: I am looking forward to the launch of the new JCT suite of contracts, including our new Target Cost Contract, which I always considered to be the missing part of the JCT jigsaw. I am especially looking forward to working with Karen Kirkham, our chair, and helping her to deliver her vision for the future of JCT. It is an exciting time!
JCT: Do you have any personal career highlights?
SS: There have been many career highlights and indeed challenges throughout my career in the construction industry and I have been lucky to work with some exceptional people. Obviously, my most recent career highlight was to be appointed JCT vice-chair.
JCT: What are you most proud of about the construction industry as a whole and where do you think it most needs to improve?
SS: I am most proud of our ability to construct wonderful buildings for a variety of different purposes and our ability to bounce back from adversity.
Improvement is definitely required in the way that our contracts are administered. Poor contract administration, lack of understanding, and bad communication lead to so many disputes that could easily be avoided. Education is key.
JCT: What do you see as the main challenges for the construction industry over the next five years?
SS: Inflation and affordability of buildings will be a serious challenge for our industry over the next five years, as well as bridging the inevitable skills shortages.
JCT: Does JCT have a wider role to play in the industry beyond producing contracts?
SS: Of course JCT has a role far beyond publishing of contracts. JCT is and must continue to be a voice for all sectors of the industry.