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BIM - the legal implications

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After the summer break, the Northern Ireland branch started its series of events with an illuminating and thought provoking presentation on its impact on insurance, intellectual property rights and design liability right of BIM (Building Information Modelling) on a project team.

BIM is a collaborative way of working, underpinned by the digital technologies which unlock more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining our assets.  BIM embeds key product and asset data and a 3 dimensional computer model that can be used for effective management of information throughout a project lifecycle - from earliest concept through to operation.

Lesley Currie, Managing Solicitor – Projects for Renfrewshire Council, highlighted some of the Intellectual Property practicalities in connection with Copyright, Licences, Database Rights, Model inputs and outputs. Also areas of amendment to standard form contracts which require consideration, such as Contractor’s Design Documents and finally design liability, including BIM protocols, corruption of the model, allocating liabilities and design ownership. 

The Government’s interest in BIM lies in the potential benefits that BIM promises:  it should lead to zero defects and clash free construction. With the building being constructed twice, once in the model and then on the ground, any design clashes should be identified in the model and resolved before the Contractor is on site. Use of the model should mean: cheaper design changes that are easier to explore; greater cost certainty across the project; and clarity from the outset what on-going management the building is going to require.  It has been suggested that the use of BIM could lead to a net saving of 5% on new-build projects and 1.5% on refurbishments. 

There is, however, a concern that the level of integration and inter-operability required by BIM at Levels 2 and 3 will have an impact on: design liability; insurance (in particular professional indemnity insurance); and the ownership of data and/or the copyright in both the individual contributions to the Model and the Model itself.

A copy of Lesley's presentation can be viewed either on our Resources Page or below with a copy of her white paper attached.




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