JCT D&B16: Is it feasible to amend the Contract terms?

Is it feasible to amend the Contract terms so that in the event of the Contractor’s insolvency any Design Team employed by the Contractor can be Novated to the Employer?

Yes it’s entirely possible to do this through incorporating some special conditions or other such device as amendments to the standard form. Care needs to be taken though as what if the design team is internal and part of the contractor who has become insolvent? Even without special conditions, with an external design team it is highly likely that they would want to continue to carry out and complete the design subject to negotiations with the Employer.

As Neil says if you try to amend a JCT Contract then these should be in a Schedule of Amendments that is properly incorporated into the Contract. You cannot do this in any other documents as that would contravene Clause 1.3 of the JCT DB 2016.

You may find it difficult to novate for the simple reason that the “now insolvent” Contractor would have to execute the Deed of Novation. The usual approach to this type of situation is to use a Collateral Warranty from the Design Team in favour of the Client which provides for Step-In Rights that would allow the Employer and the Design Team to enter into a direct contractual link with each other.

There are also possible problems with copyright and the like which are overcome in a Collateral Warranty.