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.
Member, JCT Council
Member, JCT Drafting Sub-Committee
Group Company Secretary, R G Carter
Robert Alflatt started working in the construction industry in 1995, having originally trained and qualified as a quantity surveyor from Nottingham Trent University.
Robert achieved an MSc in Construction Law and Dispute Resolution from King’s College, London in 2012.
He has spent his entire career working for contractors and has experience across multiple types of construction projects, many sectors, and many standard forms of contracts.
JCT: Robert, how did you first come to be involved with JCT? Why do you think it is important to be involved?
RA: It was by luck really. R G Carter are members of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and I was invited to represent them on the Contractors Legal Group (CLG). After a few years of working with the CLG I was invited to join the JCT Council and, after that, the Drafting Sub-Committee. I have spent many years working on various forms of standard contracts, and I think it is important to share my experiences and feedback to improve what JCT contracts offer. The industry has always adapted to changes in working practices and it is important that JCT contracts keep pace with that evolution.
JCT: Can you tell us about any specific work you are currently doing with JCT (e.g. any work with working groups/committees/Council/Board)?
RA: I sit on the JCT Council and Drafting Sub-Committee. The Drafting Sub-Committee are busy at the moment preparing the next edition of the JCT suite. The industry is also tackling the consequences of the Construction Playbook and Building Safety Bill just to name two current issues.
JCT: Do you have any personal career highlights?
RA: I am very lucky. I have had a wonderfully varied career and consequently gathered lots of experience – good and bad! It is difficult – impossible – in fact, to pick one, but two stand out for me. Firstly, the opportunity to play a role in the ongoing development of JCT and secondly, actively encouraging and supporting the future generation of the industry.
JCT: What are you most proud of about the construction industry as a whole and where do you think it most needs to improve?
RA: The industry has an amazing ability to reinvent itself. Technology and materials have driven the industry to evolve and innovate, meaning many more creative solutions to unique one-off challenges. Every project is unique and it is the buzz of solving challenges and delivering sustainable solutions that gives many who work within the industry the impetus to constantly do better. The industry has a massive challenge to respond to in terms of carbon and net-zero. Continued innovation in technology and material sciences, together with an industry-wide collective approach, will deliver sustainable reductions in its carbon impact over the years to come.
JCT: What do you see as the main challenges for the construction industry over the next five years?
RA: There are the obvious ones of addressing the skills shortage and designing buildings that are sustainable for the future, bouncing back stronger after the pandemic and carefully navigating the current geo-political challenges. Historically the industry has been slow to adapt and keep up. It must adapt quicker, but the opportunities that face it, if it does, are exciting.
JCT: Does JCT have a wider role to play in the industry beyond producing contracts?
RA: Definitely. JCT’s decision to launch its training programme in 2019 has given users access to tailored training delivered by past and current members of the JCT Council and Drafting Sub-Committee. The challenge for JCT will be keeping itself relevant to a fast changing industry in the years to come.