Building Information Modelling (BIM) Protocol is a contract document, or in better words, an amendment to contract which takes precedence over existing agreements. It is a standard protocol produced by Construction Industry Council (CIC) UK with the support from BIM Task Group for the use in projects implemented with BIM. The document can be downloaded free from CIC Publications Page.
CIC BIM Protocol should not be confused with AEC (UK) BIM Protocols. They address a different perspective of BIM implementation. A good description on AEC (UK) BIM Protocols is found here. To avoid confusion, I would use the term “CIC BIM Protocol” to identify the protocol I discuss here.
CIC is a supplementary legal agreement by means of a simple amendment to be incorporated in to regular contracts of professional service and construction. The amendment creates additional rights and obligations for the client and contracted parties. However, this does not create additional liabilities between two different contractors. Thus, it doesn’t make contract administration complex. General principles adoption in drafting of the protocol has been mentioned as below.
CIC BIM Protocol aims to enable production of (appropriate) BIM models at defined stages of a project, and thereby support the production of deliverables for “data drops” at defined project states. The protocol encourages adoption of common standards such as PAS 1192-2.
Along with the Protocol, CIC has produced two appendices. These are the only documents which need to be completed with specific project details in the adoption of CIC BIM Protocol.
Appendix 1 – Model Production and Delivery Table.
This must include references to all Building Information Models that are required by the employer at each project stage.
Appendix 2 – Information Requirements.
This details the information management standards that will be adopted on a project.
The Protocol requires the Employer to appoint a party to undertake the Information Management Role. A different party may be appointed to different stages of the project. Often this would be the Design Lead, Project Lead or the main contractor. Sometimes, the Employer may appoint a standalone Information Manager.
Information Manager does not perform any design related duties. Even the design coordinating tasks such as clash detection and model coordination are to be performed by a party assigned for those such as Design Lead or BIM Coordinator, but not by Information Manager. Responsibilities of Information Manager are;
- Managing the processes and procedures for information exchange;
- Initiating and implementing the Project Information Plan and Asset Information Plan;
- Assisting in the preparation of Project Outputs, such as data drops; and
- Implementation of the BIM Protocol, including the updating of the Model Production and Delivery Table (see below).
Information Requirements (IR) under CIC BIM Protocol are included at Appendix 2 to the Protocol so that Project wide information requirements can be expressly incorporated into all Project Team Member Agreements. That is to say, all Project Team Members agree for the same IR. The document produced by CIC is a standard format to be filled with details appropriate for the project.
The IR document (i.e. the Appendix 2) defines how a Model must be developed, although it will not change the substance of what each party must provide. It is the responsibility of Information Manager to agree and issue the IR for the project. It is necessary to understand that this would become an evolving document during the project implementation (both design and construction).
Model Production and Delivery Table
Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT) is a schedule that allocates responsibility for preparation of the Models, and Identifies the Level of Detail (“LOD”) that Models need to meet at the project stages or data drops stated in the table. Sample MDPT has been produced by CIC and present as Appendix 1.
Screenshot of Appendix 1 open in MS Excel
As mentioned earlier CIC BIM Protocol is an amendment to contract which takes precedence over existing agreements. Importantly, each amendment has to have same MPDT and IR documents (i.e. Appendix 1 and Appendix 2) attached. When separate appointments are made, such as in conventional procurement method, each contract is to be appended. Following this, each subcontract shall be appended appropriately. If integrated approach is used, such as Design and Build procurement method, the prospective main contractor (bidder) initially append subcontracts, following this, the main contract is entered into with BIM protocol amendment. This is to assure that the main contractor’s team is committed for BIM protocol before the main contract is entered into.
Intellectual Property and Model Use
Intellectual Property Rights and Model Use has been a serious concern among many because the digital model can be easily modified and reused. Clause 6 of the Protocol (Use of Models) sets out the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) provisions required to enable the Models to be used as intended and
to protect the rights of the Project Team Members against infringement.
Clause 6.2 states “any rights (including but not limited to any copyright)….shall remain vested in the Project Team Member” and Clause 6.3 clearly mentions that “the Project Team Member grants to the Employer a nonexclusive licence and, … to transmit, copy and use the Material and any proprietary work contained in the Material for the Permitted Purpose”. Permitted Purpose “means a purpose related to the Project which is consistent with the applicable Level of Detail of the relevant Model (including a Model forming part of a Federated Model) and the purpose for which the relevant Model was prepared” (clause 1.1.12).
The Employer, therefore, receives only a licence to use the model for the identified purpose under the agreement, and that only. Any amendment or modification to model by the Employer is prohibited without written consent of relevant Project Team Member (clause 6.5.1). However, any modification provided for in Information Requirements (Appendix 2) is permitted (clause 6.5.1.a), therefore such requirements are to be agreed at the time of contract (ideally) or as a subsequent variation to the contract. Further to this, in the event of termination of Project Team Member’s employment under the Agreement, the Employer receives the right to make modification to his/her model as necessary for the Permitted Purpose (clause 6.5.1.a).
BIM Protocol strictly control the model use that Clause 6.5.2 restrict the Employer even to “reproduce any proprietary work contained in the Material for any extension of the Project”. Thus, the protocol has addressed almost all concerns of Model Use by the Employer.
How Project Team Members get the rights to use models by each other is by means of sub-licence of Employers licence discussed above. This is given in Clause 6.6 “the Employer grants to the Project Team Member a nonexclusive sub-licence (including the right to grant sub-sub-licences on identical terms to the Project Team Member’s sub-contractors) to transmit, copy and use of model for the Permitted Purpose to the extent that the same or any rights subsisting therein are owned by Other Project Team Members or any other third party”. The model may include:
- any material forming part of the Specified Models which is provided to the Project Team Member by or on behalf of the Employer (clause 6.6.1);
- the Project Team Models (and any part thereof) (clause 6.6.2);
- any Federated Model (and any part thereof) (clause 6.6.3); and
- any proprietary work contained in the same (clause 6.6.4),
This mechanism built into the Protocol does not require creating additional direct liabilities between Project Team Members. To enable continuation of BIM workflow the Protocol provides that all its Clauses shall continue to apply following termination of a Project Team member’s employment under the Agreement (clause 8.1).
Electronic Data Exchange
Another concern of project participants working in BIM is the liabilities arising from working in digital information. For example, who is liable if a file is corrupted during exchange. This is addressed in Clause 5 of the Protocol. Following is an extract from it.
5.1 … the Project Team Member does not warrant, expressly or impliedly, the integrity of any electronic data delivered in accordance with this Protocol.
5.2 The Project Team Member shall have no liability to the Employer in connection with any corruption or any unintended amendment, modification or alteration of the electronic data in a Specified Model which occurs after it has been transmitted by the Project Team Member,
save where such corruption, amendment, modification or alteration is a result of the Project Team Member’s failure to comply with this Protocol.
Therefore it is clear that the risks arising from IT infrastructure and electronic exchange of data are allocated to the Employer, provided that the Project Team Member has complied with the protocol.
Key Principles of BIM Protocol Application
Following key principles of the application of BIM protocol has been identified by the BIM Task Group.
- All parties responsible for production of BIMs on behalf of Employer have Protocol incorporated into contracts.
- Same version Protocol and Appendices incorporated into each contract.
- Wording of the CIC BIM Protocol not be amended
- Protocol details all BIMs to be produced by all parties contracted
- Appendices completed with project specific information for all projects; and be available in pre-appointment documentation.
- Changes to the Protocol and its Appendices treated as variations to the Contract
These were discussed in above sections in varying degree. This is clearer presentation of important points. The last bullet highlights that subsequent changes to Protocol and/or Appendices requires following the variation procedure as per the standard agreement (FIDIC, SBD, etc.) for necessary adjustment in price and time.
Note: Intention of producing this article is to help you understand BIM implementation issues and solutions. In no circumstances this should be construed as a legal opinion or expert opinion you would rely on in making decisions.