In a previous blog post, we outlined why a sufficient knowledge of construction-specific contract law is essential to being a successful project manager and/or industry professional. The University of Auckland Engineering School in partnership with MinterEllisonRuddWatts, a leading New Zealand law firm, is offering an exciting new course: Engineering Contracts for Project Managers.

The course is fully online to allow those working full-time in the construction industry to upskill their career in their own time.

What the Course will Cover

Engineering projects are varied and complex. The contractual framework of a project is fundamental to its successful delivery. The course will provide current and future professionals in the industry with an excellent grounding in construction law principles and construction contracts. As the course is online and aimed towards working professionals, it is practically focussed.

The course covers construction contracts and legal principles throughout all stages of the project lifecycle and beyond. The course is 12 weeks (with a mid-semester break) and has 12 modules each covering a core part of construction law and contracts.

What Students will Gain from the Course

The course is designed to give professionals a strong and practical foundation in construction law contracts and principles to be successful project managers or industry professionals. The course is taught by leading construction law experts from the top-tier MinterEllisonRuddWatts Construction and Infrastructure Division.

The teaching materials are prepared by the MinterEllisonRuddWatts team, and the online discussions are hosted by senior members of the team with a practicing and experienced Engineer to Contract as co-host. The interplay between the two experts, in law and engineering project management, is an invaluable educational experience.

The course covers the key legal concepts pertaining to the lifecycle of a project: from conception through to procuring, contractual drafting and potentially claims years after the project has been completed.

Introduction to Core Concepts

The course begins with an introduction to construction law and its legal framework – and the varied legislation which forms part of it, such as: the Construction Contracts Act 2002; the Arbitration Act 1996; the Fair Trading 1986; the Limitation Act 2010; and the Building Act 2004. Students will also understand the key actors in a project, such as:

• the principal;
• contractor;
• sub-contractors;
• designer(s);
• consultant(s);
• the engineer to contract;
• funders; and
• stakeholders.

Then the course introduces contracts and the contract process (how contracts are formed and become legally binding) as well as an introduction to the standard form contracts commonly used in construction projects. In New Zealand, the most used standard form is NZS 3910 – Construct Only. This will be the primary reference text for students; however, other standard forms in the NZX Suite will be explored, such as NZS 3916 – Design and Build, as will overseas standards such as FIDIC and NEC.

Conceptualising and Undertaking the Project

Students will learn about procurement models and the tendering process. From this, students will learn how a project is conceptualised and how the appropriate contract is chosen and crafted depending on the type of project delivery.

The scope and standard of works will be covered – what does the project require and to what standard must the work be completed? The concept of contracting pricing, pricing models, and variations to the agreed works will be explored as part of this. Similarly, the roles and obligations of the parties in the contract, and their legal liability and insurance, will be covered.

Health and safety compliance, as well as an in-depth examination of the Construction Contracts Act 2002 will be taught.

Timing, Disputes and Role of the Engineer to Contract

The concept of time in construction contracts will be explored, such as how delays and extensions of time are dealt with.

The role of engineer to contract, a fundamental part of most construction contracts (and in particular NZS 3910) will be explored in detail.

It is essential for project managers to know when things go wrong and how to effectively handle disputes when they arise. Suspension and termination will be taught, as will the various dispute resolution procedures and forums: from adjudication to arbitration.

Students will learn about limitation periods for claims against builders, developers, designers and regulatory bodies beyond the completion date of the works.

Why Take the Course?

The course is taught by practicing experts in their field. It has a practical focus and is directly relevant for industry professionals. Ordinarily, the course is a post-graduate Engineering course. However, it is now open to more students and designed to be online to attract working professionals through flexible and practically focussed learning.

With construction being a major part of New Zealand’s economy, it is a strong and credible industry to develop a career within. Finally, it is an interesting time to the join industry due to updates in the law, such as a new and updated NZS 3910 that was recently released on 28 November 2023.

Join now to gain the skills to thrive in an important and exciting industry!