The JCT range of building contracts remain the most widely used standard forms in the UK, coming in a number of varieties depending upon the project in question.
The current editions were last updated in 2016, but the JCT is reporting that we will have an updated set in early 2024. So, what is being reported by way of the proposed changes?
• Language: along with gender-neutral language there is to be provision for execution by electronic signature, with notices being sent electronically
• Fluctuations: the JCT is launching a new fluctuations hub to offer guidance on this topic in an online format
• Extensions of time: there are to be new grounds on which basis a contractor can claim for an extension of time including in the event of an epidemic, and changes to the ‘statutory powers’ relevant event lists are to be introduced. Further, employers will have just eight weeks in which to assess extension of time claims, down from the current 12 weeks. The ‘discovery of antiquities relevant event’ list is to be extended to deal with unexploded ordinance, contamination and asbestos
• Loss and expense: claims under this heading are to include, as options, epidemics and government exercise of statutory powers which affect the works. The unexploded bomb (UXB’s), contamination and asbestos changes which will apply when it comes to claims for extensions of time will also be reflected in the rights to claim for loss and expense
• Liquidated damages: based on recent case law, liquidated damages will be confirmed to apply up to termination of a contract
• Disputes: there is to be a requirement for the parties to notify potential disputes and for senior executives to meet early to seek a negotiated settlement. The right to refer disputes to adjudication at any time will remain
• Building Safety Act 2022 – Assuming that the secondary legislation for the BSA 2022 is in place the JCT will be updated to reflect this major new law
• Construction Playbook and green agenda: there will be revisions to reflect the government’s playbook, published in 2020, as a guide on sourcing and contracting public works projects and programmes. We will see other revisions to reflect expectations in regard to sustainable development, collaborative working and environmental considerations.
We will report further on the planned updates as further details come available.