As Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) gains more currency, commentators are looking more closely at the legal issues this innovative approach can raise. As the contractor and chief trades participate in design, they run the risk of assuming some design responsibility. Insurance companies are developing IPD-specific products to cover this risk, but have yet to issue such policies. Proficient use of 3D design models reduces design errors, yet in human hands will never be infallible.
Conversely, as designers engage more in the construction process, their traditional aversion to participating in means and methods erodes. This can also lead to expanded liability. By sharing in financial incentives and risks, both sides have a stake in the other’s performance. Even if neither incurs direct liability outside of traditional spheres of risk, mistakes by the other can reduce the incentive pool and diminish everyone’s profit.
There are other areas where IPD’s departure from traditional practice can take parties outside safe harbors well defined by legal doctrine. Yet the same can be said of any new approach that significantly alters scopes of responsibility. The realignments which IPD engenders are a necessary step in the elimination of waste in what is currently a very wasteful industry. Creative legal drafting and an “eyes wide open” approach should go a long way towards mitigating the perceived risks and fulfilling the promise of IPD.« Back to news