JCT is updating its suite of contracts this year, as well as adding to its line up with the introduction of a target cost contract.   The first updated contract published is the Design and Build contract suite which came out on 17 April 2024.   

The official launch event is on 1 May and you can sign up to the JCT network to receive details.

For those who want to understand the changes in detail the JCT is publishing a tracked changes version which can be ordered from the JCT website.

The main changes to the Design and Build Contract are:

New Relevant Events and Relevant Matters

  • Discovery of asbestos or contaminated material (save in both cases to the extent detailed in the Contract Documents) or unexploded ordnance is now a Relevant Event/Relevant Matter, which is dealt with by expanding the antiquities clause (3.15)
  • Epidemics which affect labour/materials is added as a new Relevant Event with an equivalent optional Relevant Matter 
  • Statutory powers Relevant Event is expanded (with an equivalent optional Relevant Matter on the same terms) to expressly include
    • changes of law by UK Government / public authorities etc.; and 
    •  new CLC guidance (and probably Government guidance).

The JCT guidance note states that the reference to guidance is to both UK Government/public authorities guidance as well as CLC guidance but this is not entirely clear in the drafting.  If parties want to make this clear that it refers to both they should amend to refer to “guidance also by the Construction Leadership Council”.

New “no fault” right to terminate 

The no fault termination events if there is suspension of the works for the stated period (default is 2 months) are expended to include the new epidemic, exercise of statutory powers, changes in law, new CLC guidance events. 

Procedural changes

  • Maximum period to review EOT claims reduced from 12 weeks to 8 weeks but this is still a lot longer than under other contracts such as NEC
  • Time limit of 2 weeks added for Contractors to provide further info to support EOT claims
  • Payment procedure with timescales added for the termination payments
  • Clarification that liquidated damages end at termination

Building Safety Act 2022

A new Article is added for the parties to specify the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer for the purpose of the Building Regulations as well as other amendments to reference compliance with Part 2A of the Building Regulations.   You can of course now have have two Principal Contractors and two Principal Designers, one for CDM purposes and the other for Building Regulations.  However, it is anticipated that most of the time they will be the same. 

Other changes

The JCT now uses gender neutral language and allows for notices by email.

The design liability clause has been replaced with the usual warranty in relation to skill and care that Employers will typically include in schedules of amendments and collateral warranties.  Coupled with this is a new clause which expressly limits the contractor's design liability to skill and care and excludes fitness for purpose for design. 

JCT DB 2024 still only includes the one optional cap on liability for loss of use, loss of profit and other consequential loss arising from negligent design and is otherwise unlimited liability.  However, the updated guidance notes mention that parties may want to consider including an overall cap on liability and provides suggested drafting.  The JCT's suggested approach is an aggregate cap on liability but to exclude property damage / personal injury liability from the cap and an optional exclusion of liquidated damages from the cap.  If including a cap on liability parties should consider the tie in with insurance obligations. 

Should you start using JCT 2024 DB?

From a Contractor's perspective, definitely as the changes are all positive for Contractors. 

Similarly there is no reason why Employers shouldn't also move to using the 2024 DB contract.  Existing amendments won't need much updating and Employers just need to consider the new Relevant Events and optional Relevant Matters to agree the most appropriate risk allocation.