The new form of subcontract is called DSC. I can't imagine what those initials stand for. The cover is blue. Let's call it "the new blue form of subcontract". The idea is that it will oust DOM1. That form was used, is used, with JCT98, but it is not a JCT invention. DOM1 is published by the Construction Confederation. So DOM1 was not a true stablemate of the JCT main contract. Anyway, DOM1 is, I think, to be shelved, stopped, buried. Instead, all the income from selling the new blue jobbie is to go to JCT.
The trick? Well now, when the JCT63 main contract was up and running all those years ago, the payment period between "due date" and "final date" for each interim payment was 14 days. The subcontractor under the old blue form was also on 14 days. Then, when JCT80 came along, the main contract period stayed at 14 days but the subcontract period in DOM1 stretched to 17 days. When JCT98 came along, the main contract payment again stayed at 14 days, but the new blue form stretches the subbie out to 21 days.
It's all in the interests of making good working relationships; it's supposed to make subcontractors feel part of the partnership to wait longer for their cash. The subbies will see it as a trick.
A new orange form of contract is also just out from JCT. It is a complete set of documentation for your next construction management adventure. "Big Orange" is the ideal name for the agreement between the client and the construction manager. They're the one that promises to stand shoulder to shoulder with the client in the watchtowers while the trade contractors heave and haul and shout for help down there in the pit. The name of the trade contractors' contract is "Mini Orange". That's the agreement between management contractor and trade contractor. Some might call that one the "Satsuma Contract".
I haven't stopped yet. There is an orange form for inviting tenders from the trade wallahs. Then another orange form for the actual tender, then another orange form for a warranty between the trade contractor and a future purchaser or future tenant of the building; yet another orange form for the trade contractor to make promises to any funder for the project. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, there is another orange form which explains how all the other oranges work in the orange grove.
And will this new management documentation work? I just don't know; all I do know is that you will be glad to see the back of the old JCT management contract. It was a considerable intellectual challenge to fathom what the hell it meant. Good riddance! I will let you know about the new orange lot once the first dispute under this lot arrives. It won't be long.
It’s supposed to make subcontractors feel part of the partnership to wait longer for their cash. The subbies will see it as a trick
And now for the third limb of the JCT release of new forms. Ye brave souls at the JCT; you have put your toes into the exciting cosseted world of the consumer. Yes, the JCT has published a building contract for Mrs Bloggs, the homeowner. Actually, it is two agreements. The first is between Mrs Bloggs and her consultant. The second is between Mrs Bloggs and her builder.
These two forms are superb. They are short, simple, and sweet and both won the Plain English Campaign Crystal Mark. Do, dear consultants and dear builders, get these forms on the go. But I warn you that the forms will make not the slightest difference to Mrs Bloggs when it comes to a complaint. When will you folk learn? Mrs Bloggs, whether right or wrong, thinks she is right. And do you know what JCT has imported into the JCT homeowner form of contract? Adjudication, that's what. More than that, it has made it a 21-day process instead of the 28 days in commercial disputes.
I give you three tips. First, Mr Consultant or Mr Builder, allow Mrs Bloggs to begin the adjudication. If you start it, you will be accused of playing a trick card, of being a cowboy.
Second, if you happen to be appointed adjudicator and happen to decide against Mrs Bloggs, go and join the Foreign Legion.
Third, when building Mrs Bloggs' house extension, make sure the lintel over the kitchen window is absolutely level and make sure the plaster finish on the wall facing the lavatory pan is as smooth as a baby's bottom.
Tony Bingham is a barrister and arbitrator specialising in construction. You can write to him at 3 Paper Buildings, Temple, London EC4 7EY, or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.