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What is a JCT Contract?

A JCT Contract is a form of construction contract published by the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT). 

JCT was established in the 1930’s and according to the RIBA Construction Contracts and Law Report 2022, its suite of construction contracts are the most widely used suite of construction contracts in the UK.

JCT release regular updates to their contracts, the most recent release being the 2016 suite which incorporated significant amendments to the earlier 2009 edition including changes to payment, insurance, loss and expense as well as fully integrating changes for The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.  

Are JCT Contracts legally binding?

Generally speaking yes. Given their enduring popularity within the construction industry, JCT contracts have stood the test of time and providing that they have been executed correctly, a standard form of JCT contract is likely to be considered legally binding by the Courts. They may be entered as simple contracts or as a deed.

In their unamended form, they aim to strike a fair balance when it comes to risk allocation between the parties however, it is common practice within the UK construction industry for parties to sometimes amend the standard terms in order to transfer more risk to another party.

Whilst generally speaking an unamended JCT contract is likely to be legally binding, our team are often asked what circumstances a party might be able to terminate a JCT contract. Whilst most JCT contracts contain termination provisions that may allow for a party to terminate the contract in the event of specified circumstances such as insolvency or default, it is always sensible to seek legal advice before considering termination of a JCT contract.

If a party wrongfully terminates a contract when it is not entitled to do so, that party might be found to be in repudiatory breach of contract and at risk of a claim for damages from the other party for wrongful termination.

What are the different types of JCT contracts?

The JCT suite currently contains over 25 different types of contract. These contracts are grouped into 12 different contract families, which reflect the various range of procurement methods used by the construction industry.

The JCT contract families comprise:

What type of JCT contract should you use?

The first issue to consider is which procurement route is preferred. The three main procurement options available under JCT contracts are “Standard”, “Design and Build” and “Management”.

Your choice of contract may also be influenced by the size and complexity of the works, the measure of control and accountability to be retained by the client, certainty of cost, the importance of commencement and completion dates and the likelihood of design changes during construction.

Why should you use a construction solicitor to review a JCT building contract?

A construction solicitor can provide valuable expertise and advice when it comes to reviewing a JCT building contract. Here are some reasons why you should consider using a construction solicitor:

Tailored advice

Every construction project is unique, and a construction solicitor can provide tailored advice based on the specific needs and requirements of your project.

Understanding of the JCT contract

A construction solicitor will have a comprehensive understanding of the JCT contract and its terms. They can identify any potential issues or areas of concern and advise on the best course of action.

Compliance with regulations

A construction solicitor will be up to date with the latest regulations and requirements. They can ensure that your JCT building contract complies with all relevant legislation, reducing the risk of legal disputes.

Risk management

Construction contracts can be complex and may involve significant risks. A construction solicitor can help manage those risks by identifying potential issues and advising on strategies to mitigate them.

Negotiation skills

A construction solicitor can negotiate on your behalf to ensure that the terms of the JCT contract are fair and reasonable, and protect your interests.

Bespoke amendments

JCT contracts can be amended by a schedule of amendments, which means that the terms of the contract may be modified to suit the specific requirements of the project or the parties involved. It is important to understand how these amendments might impact the risks and obligations upon the parties.

A construction solicitor can help to review the schedule of amendments to ensure that any changes are fair and reasonable and do not increase the risk or liability of either party. They can also advise on the implications of the amendments and how they might impact the project timeline, budget, and other contractual obligations.

Failing to review and understand the impact of amendments to a JCT contract could lead to misunderstandings and disputes down the line, which could be costly and time-consuming to resolve. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional legal advice to ensure that any amendments to a JCT contract are properly reviewed and understood before signing.

Speak to a JCT Contract solicitor

Using a construction solicitor to review a JCT building contract can equip you with invaluable expertise and advice, reduce risk, ensure compliance with regulations, and protect your interests. To speak to  specialist construction lawyer please complete the form below or give us a call to discuss your matter.

Key Contact

Phil Caton

Phil Caton

Construction Law Partner

Phil is a Partner at the firm who specialises in both transactional and contentious construction matters.

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