The Joint Contracts Tribunal has published JCT98, the successor to JCT80 and all its amendments and supplements. So, what difference will it make?
How do you fancy a change of job? There is a beauty going at the JCT, the UK organisation that invents and reinvents oodles of forms of building contract. The Joint Contracts Tribunal is looking for a new secretary general. I almost applied myself.

The attraction is that it is offering a package worth £100 000 a year. Now then, I worry about these packages. Is it £100 000 worth of banana skins? But I do wish the eventual appointee well. And could this new secretary general do something for a surveyor at a London council? She phoned me to complain that we hadn’t told her that many of her favourite JCT documents had passed away. The surveyor is right to complain, and I will do a rundown.

First, I thought I should mug up on the new forms. So, I looked up the JCT web site. Snag is, it hasn’t got one. But the nice lady who fields calls at JCT HQ said it would have soon, along with the new boss.

If I had got the job, my first task would be to put all the forms on the site. I guess I could bring in £50 000 a year with that. Let’s have a subscription service and a search engine for all the pages in all the forms. I reckon another £50 000 would come from selling the same information on CD-ROM.

As for knowing what forms have gone away, I can report that JCT80 is on the scrap heap, sort of. Its replacement is JCT98. The old JCT81 with contractors design gives way to CD98 with contractors design. Next, there is a jolly form called Contractors Design Portion Supplement with Quantities 1998. It is used when works have full drawings and bills of quantity supplied by the architect but part of the works is to be designed and carried out by the contractor. The popular Intermediate Form IFC84 is now replaced by IFC98. There are also new sectional completion supplements. Oh yes, and there are guidance notes available too. Finally, the prime cost contracts now come under JCT PC98.

But let me go back to the best seller, JCT98. It comes in a variety of names: JCT98 Local Authorities Edition, with quantities, without quantities, or with approximate quantities. The same sort of ideas apply to JCT98 Private Edition, again with quantities, without quantities, or with approximate quantities. It makes you breathless doesn’t it? But I haven’t finished. The JCT management contracts are now called 1998. There is also a measured term document 1998. Then there is the new minor works contract MW98.

The JCT works contract machinery entails no less than five documents for the placing of one posh subcontract

Turn now to subcontracts. Nomination under JCT98 main contracts now needs NSC/C98. Remember, though, that there is a handful of forms in this sophisticated piece of nomination machinery. So far as I can see, you need seven forms just to get one nominated subcontractor in place.

Next, consider named subcontractors under the Intermediate Form IFC98. The new, two-document naming device is NAM/SC98 and NAM/T98. There is another nomination regime under the JCT Prime Cost Contract. You buy NSC/T(PCC)98 and NSC/A, but I admit to being completely fogged by now.

More fog descends when subcontracts are agreed under the JCT management arrangements. They are works contracts rather than subcontracts. Here, the JCT works contract machinery entails no less than five documents for the placing of one posh subcontract.

Don’t stop yet. I have finished with JCT but not with subcontracts. Most people can be forgiven for thinking that JCT publishes the domestic subcontract forms. It doesn’t. The publisher is the Construction Confederation. The well-known DOM1 is now smack up to date and is called DOM1 1998. It comprises two documents: the articles and the conditions. This is used when JCT98 is the main contract. DOM2 1998 is the form that usually fits with JCT98 CD. The intermediate main contracts use IN/SC (two forms) for domestic subcontracts.