Contract-drafting body may shed traditionalist image by drafting forms for new-style procurement routes.
The Joint Contracts Tribunal is set to expand its role as a construction contracts writer by covering more up-to-date styles of procurement and consultant appointments, including private finance initiative deals.

Secretary-general Peter Hibberd said the organisation's newly formed Rethinking Construction Working Group was considering drafting contracts for new types of construction relationships, such as prime contracting, PFI deals, framework agreements and design, construction and maintenance arrangements.

Hibberd, who was appointed seven weeks ago, said the working party was also looking at incorporating ideas such as performance measurement and incentives in contracts.

The move marks a change of policy at the JCT. Francis Ives, the tribunal's vice-chairman, admitted that in the past, the body had been quite slow to react to industry trends. One senior lawyer said: "It never even got around to developing a construction management contract." According to Hibberd, the JCT wanted "to be proactive and lead the way. It may well be that clauses can't be standardised, but it's important to see if they can be so that we don't have to duplicate the effort".

Hibberd also suggested that the JCT could become a consultant. "If a large client wanted us to develop a suite of contracts, then we would consider it," he said.

Neil White, head of construction at solicitor Taylor Joynson Garrett, doubted whether JCT could succeed. "In areas such as PFI, each contract is sufficiently different for them to be tailor-made by lawyers, and the standard clauses have already been circulated by government." White conceded that the JCT had started to move more swiftly. "Earlier this year, it brought out a Construction Industry Scheme clause very quickly – by its standards," he said. However, he added that: "The JCT has a number of conflicting interests within it, such as developers and contractors, that might slow it up.

"The age-old problem is that there are too many contractors in [the JCT]. So, the question is, will developers warm to it?" asked White.