This Year’s Model – The CIC BIM Protocol Revised

by David King

The BIM Protocol was first published by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) in February 2013. It was one of a number of documents prepared to support the Government BIM Strategy (May 2011), with its mandate for publically funded construction projects to be undertaken using BIM Level 2. To this end the BIM Protocol sought to provide a legal framework to facilitate and promote the use and exchange of electronic data; which by its nature is less immediately visible.

The first edition set out specific obligations, liabilities and limitations on the use of building information models – typically based on a 3D design model. Clearly defining permitted use was seen as particularly important, insofar as the model may have been developed only to the extent necessary for design coordination; not necessarily for any other purposes – quantities take-off, sequencing, fabrication, etc.

Another key aspect addressed the risk that electronic data might be altered (inadvertently or otherwise) in the process of transmission, leading to inconsistencies, anomalies and errors – particularly when converting from the system and format used by originator to an alternative system or format.

However, it did generate some comments. The general principle that the protocol, as a contractual document, should take precedence over the existing agreements was questioned widely; as was clause 6 covering Intellectual Property Rights, which stated that “any rights … shall remain vested in the Project Team Member”. While this was understandable from the perspective of designers who had spent much time and money developing “content” for their models, it did not provide for flexibility and often required amending – not least for government projects!

As standards developed it became clear that a greater degree of consistency in terminology would help create better understanding of the roles and processes involved.

The highly anticipated and long awaited second edition of the BIM Protocol, originally scheduled for release last year, was eventually published on 10 April 2018. This is now closely aligned with PAS 1192-2 (and so applies to all information – not just models) but also reflects updates and additions across the framework – most recently PAS 1192-5:2015 (Security), and PAS 1192-6:2018 (Health & Safety). An update of PAS 1192-2:2013 is currently in the pipeline, and a new PAS 1192-7:2018 (Structured digital product information) is scheduled for release later this year.

So what else has changed? It is certainly a more flexible and user-friendly document, which can be used in conjunction with a range of different contracts – the introduction to the new edition highlights that the “Protocol was drafted for use with all common construction contracts”; and the NEC/ICE have already issued a practice note on how to use the CIC BIM Protocol with NEC4 (Click Here).

The twelve principal changes from the first edition (refer to clause 2 for details) are summarised as:

  1. Responsibility Matrix – The Protocol now includes a Responsibility Matrix, instead of a Model Production and Delivery Table.
  2. Information Particulars – Appendix 2 now refers to the Employer’s Information Requirements for the Project and the BIM Execution Plan; both required by PAS 1192.
  3. Permitted Purpose – determines how information can be used; now refers to: (i) level of definition (rather than level of detail), consistent with PAS 1192-2; (ii) status code of information, which indicates approved ‘suitability’ for use of information at stage of issue; (iii) functional state of the Project Information (work in progress, shared, published, etc.); and (iv) the purpose for which the information was prepared.
  4. Protocol and Agreement – the Protocol now ‘piggy backs’ on the prime Agreement, and takes precedence only if, and to the extent that, there is a conflict in respect of key provisions (clause 3, 4 and Appendix 1 or 2 of the Protocol) – creating a minimum set of consistent obligations without overriding the agreed contractual position any more than necessary.
  5. Co-ordination – a new process is included for coordinating information and resolving inconsistencies (clause 2.1-2.2), and the statement that Models takes precedence has been removed as this is not always appropriate.
  6. Standards, Methods and Procedures – processes in PAS 1192-2 are typically followed for BIM to clarify the basis on which information is produced and exchanged, and the Employer here commits to preforming its obligations under the Standards, Methods and Procedures set out in the Information Particulars (clause 3.1.2).
  7. Common Data Environment (CDE) – Project Team Members here commit to sharing and publishing information using the CDE Process; the Employer ensuring that Project Team Members can use the CDE Process to the extent necessary to perform their obligations.
  8. Programme – Specified Information must be shared and/or published during the stage and at times stated in the Responsibility Matrix, the Information Particulars or the Agreement – i.e. not subject to ‘reasonable endeavours’.
  9. Interoperability – a key issue on any BIM project; Project Team Members now give no warranty that their software is compatible with that of any other Team Member/Employer. This is more balanced than the first edition, in which team members gave “… no warranty as to the integrity of electronic data” per se (first edition, clause 3.5).
  10. Copyright – the copyright provisions are now more flexible. Clauses 6.2–6.4 (stating that team members retain copyright and grant a licence) only apply if the Agreement contains no provisions regarding intellectual property; if the Agreement contains such provisions they apply to the Material (Specified Information, etc.) ‘back-to-back’. So the Protocol can be used unamended even if the team member will not retain ownership of its intellectual property (e.g. because it will be transferred to the Employer).
  11. Security – a key factor on any project using BIM, as outlined in PAS 1192-5:2015. The new edition therefore refers to: (i) the Built Asset Security Manager; (ii) Security Requirements; (iii) Sensitive Information; and (iv) Employer Remedies if security obligations are breached.
  12. Appendices – the ‘pro forma’ Appendices have been updated to align with the updated Protocol; and are now available in an editable electronic format.

The principal objective “to provide a legal framework to facilitate and promote the use and exchange of electronic data” is unchanged; supporting the move towards a collaborative digital future. Also, the CIC BIM Protocol remains the only model legal document of its kind in the UK, so this updated, more flexible and easier to use edition is likely to see greater uptake in the years ahead; meaning less reliance on separate ‘ad hoc’ Electronic Data Exchange Agreements.

A free download of the new BIM Protocol is available on the CIC website (Click Here).