Out-Law News 2 min. read

JCT 2024: latest forms address minor works and sub-contracting

A new tranche of standard form construction contracts pertinent to minor works and sub-contracting arrangements have been released by the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT).

Publication of the 2024 versions of the Minor Works Building Contract (MW), the Minor Works Building Contract with contractor’s design (MWD), the Minor Works Sub-Contract with subcontractor’s design (MWSub), the Short Form of Sub-Contract (ShortSub) and the Sub-subcontract (SubSub), come after the JCT published changes to its main standard form ‘Design and Build’ Contract last month.

Construction law expert James Ladner of Pinsent Masons said the drafting updates made in these versions mirror some of the equivalent drafting in the Design and Build Contract. He said notable changes had been prioritised in the contracts, adding that the minor works contracts are intended to be used for less complex and lower value works.

An example of one of the changes is that each of the new contracts contains the new article requiring the parties to work in a co-operative and collaborative manner, in good faith and in a spirit of trust and respect and the requirement to avoid or seek early resolution of disputes through negotiation.

Ladner said: “Those particular changes in the JCT DB 2024 update were changes made more on policy grounds as opposed to changes driven by case law or statute changes. JCT clearly intend to run these changes through the whole suite. This will impact on future disputes on the JCT – as we have seen with clauses of this nature in, for example, the NEC contract form.”

Some of the same changes applied to the JCT Design and Build Contract have been carried over into the minor works suite. These include legislative and case law-related updates such as those reflecting competency requirements included in the new Part 2A of the Building Regulations 2010 as part of building safety reform, as well as changes to the definition of insolvency as a result of changes introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. There is also new drafting on damages payable after termination or termination payments following the Triple Point case.

In addition, the new clause confirming that the contractor or sub-contractor, as appropriate, has no liability for fitness for purpose has also been made for the forms containing design obligations.

However, one notable change that has not been carried across to the smaller forms of contract are the provisions relating to additional time and money for asbestos/contaminated land, epidemics and changes in law. The previous antiquities clause in the JCT Design and Build Contract was expanded in the contract update to include for the discovery of asbestos, contaminated material and unexploded ordnance. Compliance with the clause allows for an extension to the completion date as well as additional costs.

JCT has said, though, that it considers that the contract is not suitable where detailed provisions governing extensions of time and loss and expense are needed, and the same also then applies to the ShortSub and SubSub forms.

Michael Allan, construction law expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “It is good to have the second set of contracts released from JCT. We can see more clearly now how JCT intend to carry changes through the contract suite. We are looking forward to seeing the JCT Target Cost contract which is to be a new addition to the family of contracts.”

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