Creating a contract on a standard form is relatively straightforward… isn’t it?

Ms Wild bought a 1970s house in Cheshire and wanted to renovate it. Her professional drawn up specification envisaged that any contract would be on the RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2014 (a relatively short and simple building contract). The tender package included some of the information that the RIBA form requires for certainty, although not all of it.

After a series of email exchanges with a specific contractor, works started. No contract was ever produced or signed on the RIBA form. The client didn’t sort out the signing of a RIBA form contract, nor did she appoint a professional to help her.

Was it included by reference?

Whilst both (1) the specification in the tender envisaged a contract on the RIBA form would be entered into, and (2) the tender stated that the client was willing to use the RIBA form,  no contract was ever drawn up with all the details included and no contract was signed.

On top of the lack of a signed contract, the RIBA form can only be operated effectively if there is a contract administrator – whether an independent professional or, with the contractor’s agreement, the client herself. The client didn’t appoint her architect beyond the tender stage and never asked the contractor if she could take on that role!

The result?

The court said ‘the contract works perfectly well as a simple contract incorporating the tender documents, email correspondence, the programme and other contract documents’.

No RIBA form!

What should you do?

If you want to use a standard form, get it signed. End of.

Case: Cartwright Pond Ltd v Wild [2021] EWHC 1600

 

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