This is the first in a series of guides to JCT forms of contract, writes David Chappell.
Appropriately, the series starts with JCT 98. It is notoriously difficult to write a simple guide. One of the problems with a simple guide is what to leave out. It is axiomatic that the author will omit, or deal very briefly with, just the thing which the reader wants to know. For example, I looked in vain in this book for any mention of the employer's representative (clause 1.7), a new clause which seems to warrant at least a brief explanation.
The book is divided into a series of topics: documents; obligations of the contract; possession and completion; control of the works; sums properly due; certification; indemnity and insurance; determination; and dispute resolution. It's an arrangement which immediately gets my vote. There are a series of appendices of useful information, practice notes and the like, a fairly meagre list of book references, a list of cases unfortunately not indexed, a clause index and a subject index. If there is one overall criticism of this book, it is not of content, but of presentation.Every page has a horizontal line under the header and it is printed in silver.
All the diagrams are partly in silver also.
This must have been quite expensive to achieve, but the effect is generally dazzling and the diagrams are more difficult to read than if straightforward black and white had been used.
However, the text is direct, easy to understand and to the point, divided up into short paragraphs for easy reference.
At appropriate places in the book there are potted case histories which effectively put over the relevant decision. At intervals, elegant flow charts are used to explain difficult concepts. This is a useful little book which will be invaluable to all construction professionals as a way of getting into JCT 98. If every architect used this book, there would be fewer mistakes. It is an excellent publication. and it deserves to do well.
Guide to JCT 98 by Sarah Lupton, (1999), RIBA Publications Ltd, paperback 172 pages, £30.
Series editor: Stanley Hall Cox.
David Chappell is a director of contract consultant Chappell Marshall