It appears that there is an increasing trend of highly bespoke contracts being used on projects which purport to be standard forms.
The advantages and benefits of contracting on standard form contracts are well rehearsed - reduced cost, reduced negotiation, better familiarity and an increased confidence with contract terms and often an established body of case-law for legal interpretation of them.
It is equally fairly widely acknowledged that one size does not always fit all and that, whilst standard form contracts are often a good starting point, they rarely do everything you need them to on a project-by-project basis. Some amendment is therefore inevitable, justified and necessary.
But there is a balance to be struck - a standard form contract with an excessive amount of amendment can significantly reduce (or in some cases even eliminate altogether) the benefits that can be derived from contracting on that standard form.
Employers would be well advised to re-consider their proposed amendments to any standard form and objectively ask themselves: "Are these amendments really needed and is it fair and reasonable to include them in the contract for this project? If the answer is no, then greater benefits may actually be gained from leaving them out.
The proliferation in the use of bespoke contracts that often purport to be standard forms is creating a minefield for unsuspecting subcontractors. Specialists now claim that most tier one contractors have shifted away from standard forms, as they seek to shift risk on projects with paper-thin margins.