Design liability in standard form construction contracts
Design liability in standard form construction contracts

The following Construction practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Design liability in standard form construction contracts
  • Standard forms—building contracts
  • JCT
  • NEC
  • PPC2000
  • Standard forms—consultant appointments
  • RIBA
  • CIC

The allocation of design responsibility is a key consideration in any construction project, as this will determine which party bears the risk of the design being defective. The standard forms of building contract and consultant appointments deal with design liability, and the standard of care to be exercised in relation to design, in different ways. This Practice Note describes how design liability is dealt with in the most commonly-used standard forms, including JCT, NEC, FIDIC, PPC2000, RIBA and CIC. For information on design liability generally, see Practice Note: Design liability in construction contracts.

Standard forms—building contracts


The procurement route and approach to design that the employer wishes to take will determine the appropriate JCT form of contract to use (see Practice Note: JCT contracts).

Where the parties agree that the contractor will be responsible for the design of all of the works (ie the procurement route is design and build), the JCT Design and Build (DB) 2016 form should be used. Alternatively, if the contractor is to be responsible for only part of the design, one of the traditional forms may be appropriate, eg the Standard Building Contract (SBC) 2016 could be used with the parties inserting the relevant information into the Contractor’s Designed Portion (CDP) in the ninth to twelfth recitals. Or the employer may choose to use the Intermediate Building Contract with contractor’s design

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