Q&As

Under the JCT and NEC contracts, is the contractor entitled to an extension of time if construction works are delayed due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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Produced in partnership with Julie Morrisey of Clyde and Co
Published on LexisPSL on 23/03/2020

The following Construction Q&A produced in partnership with Julie Morrisey of Clyde and Co provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Under the JCT and NEC contracts, is the contractor entitled to an extension of time if construction works are delayed due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)?
  • JCT contracts
  • Force majeure
  • Exercise of statutory powers
  • Site/access restrictions
  • NEC contracts
  • Future contracts

Under the JCT and NEC contracts, is the contractor entitled to an extension of time if construction works are delayed due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A contractor may be entitled to an extension of time due to coronavirus where, for example:

  1. labour supply is affected

  2. material supplies are delayed by supply chain issues affected by overseas governments exercising statutory powers

  3. the site is closed partially or wholly or restrictions are placed

  4. government exercise of statutory powers

The terms of the contract will determine the routes available to a contractor. This Q&A looks at the provisions in the two forms most commonly used in the United Kingdom—the JCT contracts and NEC contracts.

JCT contracts

Under the JCT Standard Building Contract 2011/2016 there are three possible avenues for a contractor to make a claim for an extension of time:

Force majeure

‘Force majeure’ is not defined in the standard JCT contract (it is advisable to check any schedule of amendments for a definition) but does constitute a ‘Relevant Event’. So long as the contractor has followed the correct contract procedures and given notice of the Relevant Event, the contractor may be entitled to an extension of time.

As there is no definition of force majeure in the JCT standard contract, case law should be consulted for an appropriate reference point. The case law is limited but in a 1920s case Lebeaupin

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