The JCT and Relevant Events

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The construction industry is full of jargon and it can be difficult to understand all the acronyms and terms used. It’s even more difficult when it comes to construction contracts. We’ve written this article to provide clarity on the term “Relevant Events” and what it means in Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) forms of Contract.

Relevant Events are one of the most important terms in a JCT Contract, so it’s crucial to understand exactly what it means and how it can be used.

What does Relevant Event mean under JCT?

A Relevant Event is an event on or off site that causes a delay to the completion date of the works.

For example, a Relevant Event could be something that happens during the design and manufacture process to delay things, or a site event that prolongs the installation works.

Why is it important to understand a Relevant Event under JCT?

Relevant Event is the technical, contractual term for a simple delay event. When working under a JCT Contract it’s important to recognise and use this term in order to apply for an Extension to the Period for Completion (apply for an Extension of Time).

Applying for an Extension of Time is crucial as it allows you to:

  1. Recover any additional losses and expenses you’ve incurred; and,
  2. Shield yourself from any damages which the client may wish to levy as a result of the delay

What events can be defined as Relevant under JCT?

There are many different facets to a construction project and multiple stakeholders who can cause an event to occur which delays your works.

To try and cover all eventualities the JCT goes into great detail as to what constitutes a Relevant Event and there is a standard list of definitions for Events which the JCT considers Relevant. The key definitions are listed below with a simple explanation to explain exactly the meaning of the clause:

JCT WordingWhat does this mean in simple English
“Changes and any other matters or instructions under which these Conditions are to be treated as, or as requiring, a Change”If your client has done anything to create a variation to the contract agreement, this can be considered a Relevant Event.
“Employers Instructions…”If you receive direct instructions from your Client to undertake any action this can be a Relevant Event.
“Deferment of giving of possession of the site or any Section…”If your client is late handing over the site or even just a section of the site, this is a Relevant Event.
“Compliance with Clause 3.15.1…”If you’re required to comply with the various Archaeological requirements as noted in Clause 3.15.1 of the Contract, this is a Relevant Event.
“Suspension by the Contractor under Clause 4.11…”If the Contractor rightfully suspends works due to non-payment this period during which the works were suspended is a Relevant Event.
“Any impediment, prevention or default, whether by act or omission, by the Employer or any of the Employer’s Persons…”If your client has done anything which has impeded or prevented you from completing your works, this is a Relevant Event.
“The carrying out by a Statutory Undertaker of work in pursuance of its statutory obligations…”If an external body is required to undertake works on site to comply with Statutory UK Law, this can be considered a Relevant Event.
“Exceptionally adverse weather conditions”If the weather during a calendar month, exceeds the long-term average for the time of year and location by a significant amount it can be considered exceptionally adverse and, in this case,, can be considered a Relevant Event.
“Loss or damage occasioned by any of the Specified Perils”If any of the Specified Perils included in the Insurances section of the Contract (i.e. fire, lightning, explosion, storms etc.) cause you loss or damage this can be considered a Relevant Event.
“Civil commotion or the use or threat of terrorism…”If the site works are delayed by terrorism or civil commotion this can be considered a Relevant Event.
“Strike, lock-out or local combination of workmen affecting any of the trades…”If a union strikes and this causes delays on site, this can be considered a Relevant Event.
“The exercise after the Base Date by the UK Government of any statutory power which directly affects the execution of the works”If the UK Government implements any legislation after the commencement of the works which materially affects the works, this can be considered a Relevant Event.
“Delay in receipt of any necessary permission or approval of any statutory body…”Where approval is required from a 3rd party to comply with Statute, if this is delayed it can be Considered a Relevant Event.
“Force majeure”Force majeure is often defined as an “act of god” but actually it translates as “superior force”. In this instance it broadly refers to exceptional and unforeseeable events which can delay the works and if so, be considered a Relevant Event.

For example, a couple of JCT Standard Form Contracts are listed below: The
JCT has a wide-ranging suite of Contracts (Standard Building Contract, Design and Build etc.) which means that Relevant Events are listed in different sections of the various Contract. The easiest way to locate the list of Relevant Events in your JCT Contract is to check the contents page which is usually found in the first few pages of the document and will show “Relevant Events” as a Sub-Header. Where can I find Relevant Events in JCT Contracts?

Do I need to be mindful of anything?

It is important to always check the Contents of your Contract to identify all the Relevant Events in your Contract. It is quite common for clients to amend the JCT standard wording and in doing this, remove certain Events that they do not consider to constitute a Relevant Event. At the outset of your project, check what is defined as a Relevant Event under your specific contract.,

In addition, the standard wording of the JCT states that you must inform the client as soon as a Relevant Event becomes apparent in order for it to be considered as part of any claim for an Extension of Time at a later date. The JCT will often include wording similar to the below:

“If and whenever it becomes reasonably apparent that the progress of the Works is likely to be delayed, the Contractor shall forthwith give notice to the Employer of the material circumstances…”

What does this mean?

In effect, to claim that an event has delayed your works you must inform the client at the time of the event otherwise you cannot claim it as part of your Extension of Time. The idea behind this is that in informing your client at the time of the Relevant Event, they can do everything possible to remedy the issue as quickly as possible and reduce its impact.

This is an important fact to consider and comply with if you want to be able to recover an Extension of Time at the end of the project.

Relevant Matters

Relevant Matters are the brother of Relevant Events. The JCT makes a distinction between time and money in that a Relevant Event is totally related to time whereas a Relevant Matter relates to money.

When a Relevant Event occurs that has delayed the works you issue a notice to confirm this is the case and either at the same time, or at a later date, you submit a Relevant Mater that relates to the Event to recover any costs associated.

Final Takeaway Thoughts…

It’s critical to understand what delay events are considered Relevant Events on your Contract at commencement. Understanding what constitutes a Relevant Event and how you can use that to claim for an Extension of Time will shield you from damages and claims from your client and allow you to build justified ways of recovering additional monies.

About Paul Heming

Paul was a Quantity Surveyor who gained 10 years experience of managing £200 million worth of flagship UK projects, including 20 Fenchurch Street and Battersea Power Station. In 2015, Paul founded C-Link with the intention of sharing his expertise of managing major projects with the SME market.

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