Tony Bingham tells industry to “get real, stop moaning and make friends with reality”

Barrister, Arbitrator and Columnist, Tony Bingham explained that the construction industry must ‘face reality’ and find a ‘common purpose’ in his JCT Povey Lecture, delivered on Thursday 13 November 2014.

Tony’s lecture drew on his vast experience of working as an arbitrator to comment on what it is about the construction industry – in terms of the use of contracts, the relationships between parties and different specialists, and the construction process, that can be prohibitive to a collaborative, efficient and profitable industry.

Applying his trademark irreverent, provocative and entertaining style, Tony’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek criticism of the industry nevertheless highlighted some serious points about the proliferation and complexity of construction contracts which, he stated, undermines their ability to be understood and used as practical tools.

In addition, he pointed towards the attribution of risk on a project, and not allowing different disciplines on a project to do the job they are trained for (e.g. architects being responsible for design, builders being responsible for building), as major barriers to achieving a common goal – creating successful buildings and allowing profit to be made.

“I want us to use our insight into our construction world to come clean about how and why we do things…let’s get real, face reality, stop moaning and make friends with reality.”

“Ever since coming to this industry as a young man, I have heard “Teamwork, collaboration, co-operation, partnering, working together” is the key to good construction. I believe it. Damned if I see it happening any more now, than then. Every day I decide disputes, I witness antagonism, conflict and partisanship.”

“And I believe in this: Most people in our industry want to co-operate, want to be friends of the building. But the human being hovers between co-operation and conflict. We co-operate conditionally…we will share, even with a stranger, yet, when that trust evaporates, each of us is primed to revert to conflict, lest we are bettered by the other.”

“We must find profit in the common purpose; design the project before beginning the work; place the work at realistic prices; adopt the payment concordat; oust the partisanship in certifying extension of time, payments and more; treasure trust.”

Tony Bingham’s full povey lecture notes can be downloaded from the JCT website. A full and highlighted video will follow soon: http://www.jctltd.co.uk/povey-lecture.aspx.