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The Evolution of the Employer's Agent

The Employer’s Agent (EA); a quantity surveyor, project manager, client representative or all three?

“The employer’s agent for the purpose of any contract must be one individual within whom the employer has entrusted his or her authority to manage the project.” (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 2018)

Employer’s Agent; a well-known term within the construction industry, but still yet to be clearly defined. An Employer’s Agent can be involved within a project in many different capacities. The core element of the role is to represent the Client. Quantity Surveyors with the correct experience can provide a cost consultancy role.

The success of the Design and Build process has allowed the EA role to grow. Many Clients who undertook construction work began to pay close attention to contracts that reduced their risk. The Design and Build (D&B) contract meant construction and design risk could be transferred to the Principal Contractor.

Historically the process was used on small to medium sized projects, however, recent alterations have meant it can be used on larger projects. Furthermore, the D&B process creates the opportunity to harness the wealth of industry experience and knowledge of the Principal Contractor. With the ability to be used on larger projects, additional project management to deliver the project was required. This became a Project Management role.

The initial Design and Build contract arrived as Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) Standard Form of Contract with Contractor’s Design in 1981. Four revisions have provided the most recent 2016 current version, referencing the Employers Agent within the contract.

The EA is identified within the contract and acts on behalf of the client in all matters including execution and decision making. A client will provide a brief, consisting of the employer’s objectives, financial and timescale criteria. The brief will detail the extent of authority the EA holds within the contract.

Although not classed as a duty holder within CDM 2015, the EA hold contractual obligations and usually ensures the Client’s requirement, under Regulation 4, are carried out. Nonetheless, the Employer’s Agent must have a good understanding of Construction, Design and Management Regulations 2015.


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