Sir Michael Latham

I and many ECI members were so sad to hear that Sir Michael Latham had died last week. He was the ECI’s first president, from 2001 to 2008. Sir Michael had been a Conservative MP in the UK Houses of Parliament. Widely respected across the floor of the House, he became a household name in the UK construction sector when in 1993 the government of the day asked him to conduct a review of the industry and its troubles. With typical assiduousness he met with hundreds of delegations from all parts of the industry, produced an interim report called ‘Trust and Money’, and then in summer 1994 his final report ‘Constructing the Team’ was published. It was extraordinarily well balanced – he didn’t use the term “win-win” but wrote that he preferred the dodo’s quote in Alice in Wonderland that “all have won and all must have prizes”. For me personally, this was literally career-defining. Soon afterwards I was seconded from BRE to join the implementation team for his review, and a year later I successfully applied to be the Chief Executive of the new Construction Industry Board under his chairmanship, charged with implementing the recommendations. Along with Sir Ian Dixon, Michael provided me with the inspiration to understand, evidence and promote partnering (later collaborative working), client focus and outcomes, collaborative contracts, fair payment, adjudication and so much more into our sector as the components of successful change. He went on to chair so many industry bodies, as well as Willmott Dixon, received many honorary degrees and titles, and was rightly held in hugely high esteem by everyone I ever met. He is survived by two sons, and we send them our very best wishes at this sad time. Don Ward