Holidays and governing law under a building contract

February half term has resulted in less traffic but busier ski slopes. Easter will soon be approaching and again further holidays. But, what about building sites and the impact of holidays on progress on site?

Whilst the express conditions in building contracts will deal with holidays relevant to each project, the practice adopted by the JCT is typically followed. Business Day is defined in JCT contracts as any day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday which is defined as Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 is a bank holiday (amended as necessary if different Public Holidays are applicable such as for the Queens Jubilee). The Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 deals with Public Holidays in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with each country having a number of different holidays. This can cause issues on projects when parties are based in different jurisdictions and have different expectations of working (or not) on the Business Day (as defined).

A typical example may include an English based client and project with a Northern Irish contractor understandably hoping to holiday on St Patricks Day being defined as a Northern Irish Public Holiday. Whilst it is likely the client will have selected that contract terms be governed by the laws of England, should the contractor overlook this and require a St Patricks Day holiday, the client can confidently refer the contractor back to the contract terms.

The theme here is to always check the jurisdiction of the parties and law governing the contract.

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