News and Events

What is a JCT Contract?

  • Posted

The JCT suite offers off-the-shelf building contracts for construction projects in the UK. Its popularity is due to standardised forms for a wide range of projects and fair terms for all parties.  Even though they are standardised, amendments can still be made for a bespoke JCT contract. The construction industry often involves lengthy periods where contractors simply work under a Letter of Intent, or where a contract has not in fact been finalised.

The Standard JCT Contract

The Standard JCT Contract is designed for larger or more complex projects involving building services or specialist work. It allows for the contractor to design parts of the works, for works to be carried out in sections, and for specialists to be named in the contract. The contract can be tailored to be a lump sum or subject to remeasurement. 

The JCT Design and Build Contract

The JCT Design and Build Contract is suitable for projects where the Contractor is responsible for both designing and constructing the works. The Employer provides detailed information, and the Contractor is paid a lump sum to complete the detailed design and construction. 

The JCT Minor Works Contract

The JCT Minor Works Contract is intended for simple projects where the Employer provides drawings, specifications, and work schedules to define the work. The Architect/Contract Administrator administers the conditions. There is also a version that allows the Contractor to design part of the work. These forms are commonly used for small commercial projects. When choosing a JCT contract, the nature of the project and the most appropriate procurement route must be considered. It is also important to consider amending the standard conditions to fit the specific needs of the project.

Contract amendments

When making changes to a contract, it is important to review them carefully as they can impact your rights and lead to burdensome contracts. There may also be a ‘battle of the forms’ where different parties have provided contracts, which will need analysis as to which contract takes precedence. Some examples of onerous clauses to be aware of are customised or altered payment terms, defects and retention, set-off provisions, design responsibility, extensions of time, loss and expenses, condition precedent, acceleration, supplementation, and contract termination. Our guide on managing onerous construction contracts provides advice on how to handle these clauses.

How we can help you

Before entering a building contract, seek appropriate advice to ensure that your intentions are properly documented. Where subcontractors are involved another important consideration is whether or not a collateral warranty should be used. There may also be defective premises and negligent misstatement issues that arise, such as where a professional consultant certificate becomes a contentious issue. Failure to do so can result in taking on more risk than intended, which can be catastrophic if issues arise. At Smooth Commercial Law, we offer advice on contract drafting, clause amendments, as well as representation for litigation in the event a dispute is raised. Contact us if you need advice on a JCT contract or have a JCT dispute.