Introduction to the FIDIC Suite of Contracts

GAR's Guide to Construction Arbitration, first published in September 2017.

3 min read

The history of the FIDIC suite

Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils1 (FIDIC) was founded in Belgium in 1913. Since then, it has become the foremost representative body for the world's consulting engineers, with member associations in some 100 countries. Although the Contracts Committee became one of its earliest constituent parts soon after FIDIC's foundation, it was not until 1957 that the first FIDIC standard form contract was produced. The first contract, known as the Red Book first edition,2 was not actually drafted by FIDIC but was instead an authorised reproduction, 're-badged' by FIDIC, of the ICE Conditions of Contract fourth edition, published by the Institution of Civil Engineers. This was itself an 'international' contract in the sense that it had been adopted by the Association of Consulting Engineers as such. Although the modern FIDIC forms have developed very significantly since the 1950s, it is still relevant to note that 'The Red Book is based on a domestic contract.'3 These common law origins are still used as a criticism by some commentators, especially in civil law jurisdictions, who are sceptical of FIDIC's entitlement to its paramount position, though the Silver Book, for example, owes relatively little to an English heritage. Successive editions of the Red Book were issued in 1969,4 19775 and 1988.6 The other long-established FIDIC contract is the Yellow Book,7 first produced in 1963 and with subsequent editions in 19808 and 1987,9 which is the design and build equivalent of the employer design Red Book. In the mid 1990s, two significant landmarks occurred in the development of the FIDIC contracts. These were the introduction of a turnkey contract—the Orange Book—and the setting up of a task group to produce a major revision of the Red and Yellow Books. These events led to the launch in 1999 of the current editions of the principal FIDIC contracts, known colloquially10 as the 'Rainbow Suite', from the colours of the covers of the respective Books: Red, Yellow and Silver11.... Click here to download the full chapter (PDF) »


See also: Allocation of Risk in Construction Contracts



1 The International Federation of Consulting Engineers.
2 Conditions of Contract for Works of Civil Engineering Construction, 1957.
3 Nael Bunni, The FIDIC Forms of Contract, 3rd ed., Ch. 4, Blackwell Publishing (2005).
4 2nd ed.
5 3rd ed.
6 4th ed.
7 Conditions of Contract for Plant and Design-Build for Electrical and Mechanical Plant and for Building and Engineering Works Designed by the Contractor.
8 2nd ed.
9 3rd ed.
10 and somewhat inaccurately.
11 At the time of writing, FIDIC is revising these contracts in order to publish new editions, to which brief reference is made where it is useful and possible to do so.


An extract from the first edition of GAR's Guide to Construction Arbitration, first published in September 2017.

Please note that the new suite of FIDIC Contracts (Red, Yellow and Silver Books) is due to be published in December 2017. Our Construction & Engineering Group will be commenting extensively on these new forms following their release.

This publication is provided for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice. This publication is protected by copyright.

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