International law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) hosted a launch event for the newest addition to The Institution of Chemical Engineers' (IChemE) Forms of Contract – The Blue Book, at the firm's recently expanded Teesside office at the Wilton Centre. Womble Bond Dickinson advises a wide range of industrial, process and energy sector clients both locally and nationally on construction matters so the launch of this new Form of Contract is a development which is significant for its client base and the region.

The Blue Book is a first of its kind contract published by IChemE and adds to the leading professional qualifying body's internationally acclaimed suite of contracts published for the provision of Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) services for the project management, design, procurement, construction supervision and commissioning services of process plants.

Key industry stakeholders were given a formal presentation by IChemE's Contracts Committee and had the chance to ask questions, followed by an opportunity to network with others who were keen to use the new contract.

As part of its presentation, IChemE explained why the Blue Book had been published, saying that they had identified a gap in contract coverage for an EPCM contract, and that this kind of contract was much needed. 

Talking through the structure of the Blue Book, IChemE explained that the language and layout of the new EPCM contract is similar to other contracts in the IChemE suite. The rationale behind this was so that users of the new contract would find it familiar and easy to use, and also be able to use it in combination with other IChemE contacts such as the Silver Book (the Professional Services Contract).

As IChemE explained the risk structure under the new contract and how it should be used, it highlighted that the intention was for the parties to take a collaborative approach in using the Blue Book. It also added that, quickly after the Blue Book's launch, the new EPCM contract had received interest internationally, including from jurisdictions such as the Middle East.

As one of the UK's leading locations for research and development facilities, WBD's Wilton Centre base, which sits adjacent to the Wilton International site, one of the key areas comprising Teesside's industrial cluster and part of the Teesside Freeport, was the perfect location for IChemE to speak to users of its new contract.

Sarah Daun, Partner in WBD's commercial team at WBD's Teesside office said:

"There are so many strategically important projects happening in the region. Almost all of these will require significant construction works with projects publicly announced linked with energy transformation, hydrogen production, carbon capture and lithium manufacturing to name just a few. The Blue Book form is a step in the right direction in supporting those projects and will help the region to achieve its potential."

Vicky McCombe, Partner in WBD's construction and engineering team, added:

"We were delighted to help with the launch of this new EPCM contract, and it was terrific to see such an impressive turn out with so many key stakeholders who are likely to use Blue Book attending this event. Launching the new contract on Teesside is a testament to IChemE's understanding of the market and the opportunity for growth here. Womble Bond Dickinson has wide expertise in construction, energy, infrastructure and manufacturing projects, particularly on Teesside, delivering legal and commercial advice to our clients at every stage of their capital project’s lifespan – so we know the lay of the land, and are committed to helping projects break ground."

Matt Stalker, Associate Director (Commercial) at IChemE, commented:

"We're thrilled with the successful launch of our Blue Book, a first of its kind, and the feedback we've received has been overwhelmingly positive, attracting interest across the UK and internationally. We're really grateful to Womble Bond Dickinson for hosting our event and for their support in promoting the Blue Book."