Bulk and selected fills are commonly required for the construction of embankments, pavements etc. In the UK many civil engineering contracts are carried out under the ICE form of contract, which incorporates a specification that defines the nature and properties of the materials that may be used and the limitations on construction methods that may be employed. Specifications are frequently unique documents that meet the specific needs of the contract, although many are based, at least in part, on the Specification for Road and Bridge Works,Department of Transport (1976a). As with other ‘standards’, experience and local conditions have resulted, in recent years, in the production of alternative or special specification clauses, some of which have caused difficulties in interpretation and quantification at the tender stage, and interpretation and implementation at the construction stage. This has in a number of cases led to contractual disputes or increased costs to the contractor and/or employer. Some of the specification clauses that have led to disputes are described, together with illustrations on how they may be improved.