Legal definitions of BIM missing or inconsistent according to new report

28 February 2018

Legal and commercial specialists are offering different definitions of Building Information Model (BIM) Level 2, according to The Winfield Rock Report, developed in association with the UK BIM Alliance.

Launched at the BIM Show Live on Wednesday 28 February 2018, the report was conducted by BIM legal specialists May Winfield, Senior Legal Counsel at ENGIE Services Ltd and Gowling WLG senior associate Sarah Rock, and considers the present understanding of BIM among the legal community as well as the existing legal and contractual barriers. Drawing on an initial online survey, the report features interviews with a number of key industry specialists, including contractors, consultants and both in-house and private practice lawyers, to ascertain the industry's current understanding and legal uptake of BIM.

Broken down into six sections, the report looks at levels of maturity, the PAS1192 suite of standards, integration of BIM into standard form contracts, BIM specific documents and the legal community's awareness and knowledge of BIM, as well as looking at some possible next steps.

A significant finding from the report is that all specialists interviewed provided a different definition of BIM Level 2, with viewpoint and personal experience providing contrasting responses. As a result, it was concluded that the definition of BIM Level 2 - and perhaps even BIM itself - should be assessed on a project-by-project basis and incorporated in contracts accordingly.

May Winfield commented: "It is fair to say that the industry's perception is that the level of BIM knowledge and awareness within the legal community is not high. Whilst there is in fact a growing knowledge of BIM within the legal community, there is a clear need for greater understanding of the processes, BIM-specific contract terms and documents and improved collaboration with their technical colleagues. This was emphasised to us by interviewees during the research process as being required and our report reviews how to take this further."

Whilst both authors acknowledge the importance of other standards, BIM has been shaped in large part by the development of the PAS1192 suite of standards. The report again highlights significant inconsistencies in its application.

Sarah Rock added: "Our research showed an inconsistent approach to the application of the PAS1192 standards, with some interviewees experiencing the ill effects of an overly zealous and rigid interpretation. Other participants, meanwhile, felt the suite was being used too flexibly, with some project participants picking and choosing the standards that suited. We found that the most pragmatic way to utilise the PAS1192 suite of documents is to again consider their use and application on a project-by-project basis."

Following the report, two new legal support platforms have been recommended including the introduction of BIM Legal Questions: A Checklist. A series of questions compiled on the back of the responses, the checklist is designed as an initial guide for a lawyer new to BIM to assist them in asking questions to gain clearer instructions from their client as to what drafting is required to cover BIM. The report also announces the launch of BIM4Legal, a group established for lawyers involved in BIM and who are interested in meeting and interacting with peers to share legal knowledge.