Out-Law News 2 min. read

BIM Protocol publication will drive 'widespread adoption' of the technology, says expert

The publication of the legal framework to govern building information modelling (BIM) projects will help drive the "widespread adoption" of the technology in the UK, an expert has said.

Infrastructure law specialist Chris Hallam of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com and a  member of the BIM Task Group, welcomed the publication of the BIM Protocol by CIC (15-page / 835KB PDF) on Thursday.

"The CIC's new Protocol is a great step forward for widespread BIM adoption in the UK and is to be welcomed," Hallam said. "The Protocol is intended to sit alongside the underlying contract documents but generally takes precedence in the event of any conflicting provisions elsewhere in the contract documents, so careful thought needs to be given to the underlying contract and related documentation."

"The project specific details in the appendices will need to be very carefully completed and, as with any generic standard document, consideration will be needed on a case by case basis as to whether or not the Protocol is appropriate," he added.

A BIM system uses a computer generated model to collect and manage information about the design, construction and operation of a project centrally. It is especially useful where many parties, such as different sub-contractors, provide input on the same project. Any changes to the design of a project made during its construction are automatically applied to the model.

The Protocol published by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) is to be incorporated into existing construction contractual arrangements, although its terms can then be amended to set out particular rights around intellectual property ownership. It sets out the obligations that the different contracting parties would have to adhere to under the terms of individual projects, including that employers ensure that the main information document on a project is kept up-to-date during set stages of that project and that they ensure an 'Information Manager' is in place to oversee the modelling process.

Contractors' responsibilities under the Protocol include to produce the "specialised models" asked of them, including where they sub-contract out those tasks.

Further terms specified in the Protocol refer to the attribution of liability for things that go wrong when data is transferred between systems or during the modelling process.

CIC published guidance on professional indemnity insurance issues relating to BIM projects (11-page / 478KB PDF) and, in another document, also set out the broad functions that Information Managers would have to perform in BIM projects.

Infrastructure law specialist Khalid Ramzan of Pinsent Masons, who is a founding member of the Construction Industry Council's (CIC's) 'BIM2050' group, said CIC had provided a "much needed steer" to the construction industry about the role that Information Manager should perform in BIM projects.

"The 'Scope of Services for Role of Information Manager' document (5-page / 299KB PDF) is a short document and is easy to utilise," Ramzan said. "It neatly identifies the main roles an Information Manager would have to form and categories them."

"Users will have to think carefully about how this schedule is adopted because it assumes that the services for Information Manager will be undertaken by an existing professional, such as a design lead, which may not always be the case," Ramzan added. "However it is a clear step forward and should accelerate the up-take of BIM across the UK construction industry, particularly on public sector projects."

The Government set out its commitment to BIM as part of its 2011 Construction Strategy, led by the Cabinet Office. The report announced the Government's intention to require collaborative 3D BIM on all its projects by 2016. This will include electronic access to all project and asset information, documentation and data.

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