Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC-BC coming to grips with client-consultant contract issues

December 19, 2014  By Staff report

Concerned about the growing problems occurring with engineering firms’ contracts with clients, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – British Columbia (ACEC-BC) has developed a report on the subject with recommendations for action.

The basis of the problem lies in the fact that clients are tending not to use some of the standard contract forms that are available, such as the MMCD Client-Consultant Agreement, the ACEC Document 31 standard agreement that was produced in 2009, or the Canadian Construction Documents Committee equivalent.

The result is a complexity of different agreements originating with clients which often impose unfair conditions on consulting engineers.

ACEC-BC struck a task force which has produced a 12-page report that names 16 onerous clauses that appear from time to time in client-consultant contracts. These include clauses such as those that impose unfair liability in areas like consequential damages, others that might deprive the consultant of their intellectual property rights, or contracts that give the client the right to terminate a contract without fair compensation for the consultant.


Possible remedies that have been suggested are for ACEC-BC to educate both clients and consulting firms, and for the association to work directly with clients and to provide support for its member firms during proposal calls and in negotiating agreements.

Consulting engineers who are interested in receiving the report, can write to ACEC-BC at


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3 Comments » for ACEC-BC coming to grips with client-consultant contract issues
  1. John Boyd says:

    Ultimately it is a business decision whether you will contract with clients who have unreasonable expectations. If education fails then publishing a list of clients with unfair contract clauses might help.

  2. David Thompson says:

    While I have sympathy for consultants it is tainted by how prime consultants believe that sub-consultants should be treated. Compare ACEC-31 to ACEC-32. Do not complain how you are treated unless you treat others the way you wish to be treated.

  3. jerry rittwage says:

    Cochrane alberta

    I agree contracts have become complicated as we no longer seem to trust one another.
    The dollar has become the prize and not the accomplishment of a good product, for a fair and reasonable price.

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