Contractual Networks in Construction Services – A Dutch Building Block?
(2017) 25 European Review of Private Law, Issue 5, pp. 859-880
18 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 30, 2017
Cooperation in construction services in many ways bears resemblance to the theory of contractual networks. From a bottom-up perspective, contractual networks are well incorporated in Dutch construction practice. In fact, the Dutch construction sector shows several frequently used contract models for construction services that largely match Cafaggi’s ideas on embedding networks in contract law. However, these networks in construction practice are not flawless. Defective coordination, information and communication lead to many problems, such as constructive safety accidents and liability issues. A striking example of the lack of coordination was the collapse of a roof in construction of a Dutch football stadium in 2011. Other difficulties Dutch construction practice has to deal with are the vast use of standard contract terms (with lots of incompatible clauses) and the fact that construction projects are primarily project-based and not sustainable.
This paper has a twofold purpose. Firstly, it investigates the practice of contractual networks in the Dutch construction industry. What kind of construction networks exist and by what means do they function – bottom-up - in practice? Secondly, looking at this practice of contractual networks in the Dutch construction industry, what problems does it face and how could contractual network theory improve its functioning? Network specific elements such as centrality, density and internal liability, could further improve the exchange of information and transparency in construction processes. For instance, applying the network tool density may provide insights on connection and cohesion of building participants, leading to a more effective design of information exchange between network partners.
Keywords: Contract Law, Contractual Network, Construction, Construction Services, Cooperation
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