AS 4000 vs AS 2124 Contracts: Variations, Risk Allocation and Disputes Resolution

What is AS 4000 and AS 2124 Contract?

AS 4000 presents a more balanced risk allocation and emphasises collaboration in contract management. AS 2124 places more risk on the contractor and is tailored for projects with a largely complete design at the tender stage.

Understanding the Differences: AS 4000 vs AS 2124

AS 4000 vs AS 2124: In Australian construction and engineering contracts, AS 4000 and AS 2124 are two of the most widely recognised standards.

Both provide a comprehensive framework for parties entering into contracts for construction work, yet each possesses distinctive features, procedures, and provisions that differentiate one from the other.

This article delves into the major differences between these two standards, helping industry professionals and stakeholders make informed decisions regarding contract selection.


  • AS 2124: This standard was introduced in 1992, representing an evolution from its predecessor, AS 1498. It was seen as the benchmark for general contract conditions for some time. AS 2124 focuses largely on construction projects where the time tenders have already completed the design.
AS 4000 vs AS 2124 - risk management - legal project management
  • AS 4000: Published in 1997, AS 4000 is the successor to AS 2124, introducing a more collaborative approach to contract management. It is a little more concise and modern, incorporating lessons learned from AS 2124 and addressing concerns from industry stakeholders.

Key Difference between AS 4000 and AS 2124

  • Risk Allocation: In AS 2124, the risk tends to be placed more on the contractor, especially regarding latent conditions and time-related costs. AS 4000, on the other hand, introduces a more balanced risk allocation between parties.
  • Variations: Under AS 2124, the superintendent possesses wide discretionary powers regarding the valuation of variations. AS 4000 seeks to reduce potential disputes by introducing a more structured and detailed process for valuing variations, thereby promoting fairness.
  • Time Extensions: AS 2124 provides limited grounds upon which a contractor can claim extensions of time (EOT). AS 4000 expands these grounds, introducing a more equitable approach to awarding EOTs.
  • Liquidated Damages: In AS 4000, the clause related to liquidated damages and extension of time is more integrated than in AS 2124. It allows for multiple, concurrent causes of delay, acknowledging that some might be compensable and others not.
  • Role of the Superintendent: While both standards recognise the role of the superintendent, AS 4000 emphasizes the superintendent’s obligation to act impartially between the contractor and the principal, especially when determining contract-related matters.

How Do As 4000 And As 2124 Define The Grounds For Contract Termination?

AS 4000 and AS 2124 outline grounds for contract termination, aiming to provide clarity and protection for contracting parties.

AS 2124 allows for termination in cases such as a contractor’s failure to show progress or substantial breach of contract.

Similarly, it gives the principal the right to take possession of works in specific situations. On the other hand, AS 4000 presents a more balanced approach, considering the interests of the principal and the contractor.

It allows the principal to terminate a contractor’s breach and gives the contractor the right to terminate if the principal commits a substantial breach.

Moreover, AS 4000 incorporates provisions for termination due to prolonged suspension affecting the entirety of the works.

While both standards offer grounds for termination to protect parties’ interests, AS 4000 adopts a more bilateral perspective, recognising rights and reasons for both parties to initiate termination.

How do AS 4000 and AS 2124 handle defects liability?

Defects liability in construction contracts pertains to the responsibility for repairing and rectifying works found to be non-compliant or defective after completion.

In AS 2124, the defects liability period is stipulated, during which the contractor must rectify defects upon receiving a notice from the superintendent.

If the contractor fails to address the defects within a specified time, the principal might undertake the necessary repairs and claim associated costs.

Conversely, AS 4000 introduces a more modern approach to defects, termed the “defects correction period”.

This period mandates the contractor to fix notified defects. AS 4000 promotes collaboration by allowing the contractor to propose rectifying methods; if not accepted, the superintendent then dictates the remedy.

Both standards aim to ensure the contractor delivers a project meeting the specified requirements, but AS 4000 offers a more cooperative approach, emphasising mutual agreement in defect resolution.

AS 4000 vs AS 2124 Contracts: What’s the Difference?

AspectAS 4000AS 2124
TitleGeneral Conditions of Contract for ConstructionGeneral Conditions of Contract (AS 2124)
PurposeUsed for construction projects and related work.Used for construction projects and related work.
Year of PublicationAS 4000-1997, AS 4000-1997 Amdt 1-2010AS 2124-1992
ScopeUsed for various projects, including design and construction, lump sum, and construction management contracts.Typically used for lump sum contracts, especially in more traditional project delivery methods.
Contract TypeSuitable for both traditional and design and construction contracts.Primarily designed for traditional lump sum contracts.
Risk AllocationFairly balanced in allocating risk between the parties.It tends to allocate more risk to the contractor.
VariationsProvides detailed procedures for handling variations and changes in the contract.It also addresses variations but may have differences in procedures compared to AS 4000.
Progress PaymentsContains provisions for progress payments, with procedures for valuation and certification.Includes provisions for progress payments but may have variations in payment mechanisms.
Extensions of TimeProvides procedures for granting extensions of time due to delays and disruptions.It contains provisions for extensions of time but may differ in detail and procedure.
Dispute ResolutionIncludes mechanisms for dispute resolution, including mediation, arbitration, and legal proceedings.Contains procedures for dispute resolution, including arbitration and legal proceedings.
RetentionSets rules for retention, including the release of retention money.It contains provisions for retention, but details may differ from AS 4000.
Defects LiabilityIncludes clauses related to the defects liability period and rectification of defects.Contains clauses related to defects liability but may have variations in requirements.
InsuranceAddresses insurance requirements and obligations of both parties.Includes insurance provisions but may differ in detail.
CompletionContains provisions for practical completion and completion of the project.Includes provisions for completion but may have differences in detail.
Payment and PricingSpecifies payment terms, pricing schedules, and payment mechanisms.Addresses payment terms and pricing but may vary in detail.
SubcontractingIt may contain clauses related to subcontracting and approval of subcontractors.Addresses subcontracting, but details may differ.
Difference between AS 4000 and AS 2124 Contracts (AS 4000 vs AS 2124)

Which One to Use: AS 4000 vs AS 2124?

The decision on which standard to adopt largely depends on the nature and specifics of the construction project, as well as the preferences of the contracting parties.

  • For projects with a well-defined scope where the design is largely complete, AS 2124 might be more suitable.
  • For projects that require a more collaborative and flexible approach, with balanced risk allocation and a modern take on dispute resolution, AS 4000 may be more appropriate.

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Conclusion: AS 4000 and AS 2124

AS 4000 and AS 2124 have strengths tailored to different project needs and preferences.

Understanding their differences and nuances is crucial in ensuring successful contract management and project delivery.

As always, seeking legal advice specific to the project’s nature and requirements is essential before settling on a contract choice.

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