With its formation in 1931, JCT has a long history of setting the standard for contracts in the construction industry.
However the need for the industry to use standard forms of contract goes back further to the 19th Century. Most building work during this period was procured by approaches that today are described as the traditional or conventional method.
One of the earliest references to a standard building contract appears in Hudson’s Building and Engineering Contracts, pre-dating JCT and any of its predecessor bodies. But in 1903 a standard form was produced “under the sanction of the RIBA and in agreement with the Institute of Builders and the National Federation of Building Trades Employers of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” A revised version of this document appeared in 1909.
In 1931 the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) was formed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the first JCT standard form of building contract was issued (although the forms were not referred to as JCT until 1977). A local authorities version was published in 1937. Later editions of the contract were revised and published in 1939, 1963, 1980, and 1998.
In 1963 the range was extended to four, with the publishing of the ‘without quantities forms’ of the local and private versions.
From 1967 JCT forms were issued and updated via its 11 constituent bodies (reduced to nine when the three Local Authority Associations merged as the Local Government Association). The range of contract families has grown over time, accounting for and adapting to changes in industry practice, new procurement methods, and changes in legislation.
The process of producing standard forms of contract came under review in the Latham Report published in 1994. The report suggested that only those bodies whose members would be a signatory to a form should have the right to approve and authorise its publication. Previously, all new forms and amendments required the agreement of all nine bodies before they could be issued as JCT Forms.
Considering this view, the remaining member bodies decided to operate JCT as a company limited by guarantee and the Joint Contracts Tribunal Limited commenced operation in May 1998.
Today JCT is the leading provider of contract documentation, which not only covers standard forms of main and sub-contract for each of the key procurement methods, but also guidance documents, homeowner contracts, partnering documentation, collateral warranties, and agreements.