Final retention release on a JCT Contract

Upon expiry of the defect period, does the sub-contractor have to formally apply for final retention release or is the Main Contractor obliged to issue a making good of defects certificate (if defect free) regardless of an application from the subbie ?

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The primary legal/contractual obligation here will rest with the party issuing the certificate (whether main contractor to subcontractor or architect to main contractor) there is not a formal requirement for an application. That said, in my experience main contractors can be terribly forgetful on retentions and therefore a little nudge is commercial sensible and practical.