Prefabricated vertical band drains are rapidly increasing in popularity as one of the most cost-effective soft clay improvement techniques worldwide. Nevertheless, problems caused during installation (such as the smear effect), drain clogging and well resistance of long drains contribute to retarded pore pressure dissipation, making these drains less effective in the field. This leads to reduced settlement compared with that which would be expected from ideal drains. This paper is an attempt to discuss, comprehensively, the modelling aspects of prefabricated vertical drains and to interpret the actual field data measured in a number of case studies that demonstrate their advantages and drawbacks. Both analytical and numerical modelling details are elucidated, based on the authors' experience and other research studies. Where warranted, laboratory data from large-scale experimental facilities are highlighted.