JCT's highly anticipated standard form building contracts planned for release in 2024

Laura Rae
Laura Rae

Published: January 22nd, 2024

7 min read

The new year will bring a wave of developments impacting law and practice in the construction sector, with the arrival of the Joint Contracts Tribunal's (JCT) new standard form building contracts (JCT 2024 Editions) marking what many consider an overdue departure from the existing JCT 2016 Editions.

Within this article, we outline some of the changes anticipated by the JCT 2024 Editions, to provide those in the construction sector with key oversight and help with identifying areas where further advice may need to be sought, prior entering into these arrangements in 2024 and beyond.

Key Changes in JCT 2024 Editions

The Joint Contracts Tribunal is expected to publish long-awaited updates to their standard form building contracts in 2024, following a previous announcement by the JCT Chair in June 2023.

Further clarification was received in July 2023, confirming that the JCT 2024 Editions were expected to be released in the "early part" of 2024, pending publication of the secondary legislation to the Building Act 2022, which was published during August and September 2023 and came into force as of 1st October 2023.

Following these announcements, it is understood that changes in the JCT 2024 Editions include:

  • Modernising to adopt gender-neutral language and allowing for electronic execution and notice sending.
  • Changes to the extension of time provisions, for example, to account for events such as epidemics.
  • Moving the fluctuation provisions fully online.
  • Introducing a new contract family: the JCT Target Cost Contract, comprising of a comprising main contract, sub-contract and guide.
  • Amends to the liquidated damages provisions following the case of Triple Point Technology Inc v PTT Public Co Ltd [2021] UKSC 29, to confirm such clauses only apply up to termination of a contract.
  • General updates to reflect legislative changes, including the requirements in the Building Safety Act 2022, its secondary legislation, and the two insolvency grounds introduced by Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.
  • Inclusion of the objectives of the Government's Construction Playbook and incorporating previously optional supplemental provisions relating to collaborative working, sustainable development and environmental considerations.

What's Next and Recommendations

Critics of the announcements have argued that whilst the JCT 2024 Editions seem to provide some vital updates, they could have gone further in bringing about much needed change. Despite this, the actual impact will remain to be seen until the final amends to the JCT 2024 Editions are made publicly available, though it is at least expected that the documents will better reflect the changing regulatory and legal backdrop applying to the construction sector. Some are eagerly waiting to see the JCT intends to handle the contractual risks brought about by the higher-risk buildings regime in the Building Safety Act 2022.

JCT is encouraging contract users and construction professionals alike to engage with and join its JCT Network, to keep updated on the key changes and details relating to the JCT 2024 Editions as they are released.

Preparing for the JCT 2024

Whilst each new year undoubtedly brings about a number of legal, contractual and regulatory changes for the construction sector, staying prepared is key.

Once released, expected users of the JCT 2024 Editions alike will be provided with some much-needed certainty about their upcoming JCT standard build projects. Until then, our recommendation is to maintain an active awareness of the developments coming from the JCT, to help prepare for the realise of the new contracts.

It is never too early to seek advice in relation to the expected impact of the new contracts on anticipated and upcoming projects, though in any event, we recommend seeking advice relating to the specific provisions of the contracts once released, to ensure a clear understanding of obligation prior to entering into such agreements.

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