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.
Partner, Head of Construction, Wedlake Bell
Member of the JCT Drafting Sub-Committee
Suzanne heads up the Construction team at Wedlake Bell and has been instrumental in its growth to a current team of 10 lawyers. She has acted for most sectors of the industry and in recent years has acted principally for developers. Suzanne has over 25 years’ experience in the construction industry involving a wide range of projects large and small, such as hospitals and care homes, residential, office and retail development, manufacturing plant, sports stadia and infrastructure.
JCT: Suzanne, how did you first come to be involved with JCT? Why do you think it is important to be involved?
I became involved through the National Specialist Contractors Council (now Build UK). I wanted to become involved because JCT contracts were and are widely used and respected and I deal with them on a daily basis. I consider it important that all users, whether professional or the parties to the contracts, contribute to keeping up JCT contracts relevance to the market.
JCT: Can you tell us about any specific work you’re currently doing with JCT – in particular your role with the JCT Drafting Sub-Committee, for example?
The work of the Drafting Sub-Committee is a continuing and on-going process and it is constantly looking to update and improve the contracts as well as to fill any gaps in the contract suite. I was involved in the last (2016) edition, and before that the (2011) edition both of which were major but well received updates.
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?
The great thing about working in the industry is being able to see tangible results as buildings of many kinds are brought to life – I have had a small part to play in some impressive buildings! It is an exciting industry to work in and an important one for the economy. However in my view it is undervalued. I believe that the low profit margins for which contractors and some consultants work makes little allowance for the inherent risks involved in a construction project – that is the source of many disputes and contributes to the industry’s adversarial reputation.
JCT: What do you see as the main challenges for the construction industry over the next five years?
See above! There is likely to be even more pressure on margins and prices due to labour and material shortages in an increasingly competitive market due to reduced investment whatever the outcome of Brexit.
JCT: Does JCT have a wider role to play in the industry beyond producing contracts?
Yes, I always think that it is the United Nation for construction, by nature a collaborative body used to balancing the interests and views of the industry sectors.