Last edited 10 Apr 2019

Main contract

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In a contract there is reciprocity of undertaking passing between the promisor and the promisee. The rights and obligations of the parties to the contract are created by the acts of agreement between them.

In the procurement of construction, contracts can be:

The ‘main contract’ is generally that which is awarded by the client (sometimes referred to as the employer) to the general contractor, or main contractor, whose tender has been accepted. The works required from the main contractor are set out in detail in tender documents, for which they have offered a price that has been accepted by the client.

Main contractors are often appointed under a traditional contract to construct a development for which the design has already been completed by consultants appointed by the client. However, under other forms of main contract, they might also provide part or all of the design, facilities management services, and even financing.

The organisations that the main contractor may appoint to carry out specific aspects of the works for them may be described as ‘subcontractors’, 'subbies', or simply as 'suppliers'. They will be appointed by the main contractor under subcontracts, and subcontractors may themselves appoint subcontractors under sub-subcontracts, and so on. See suppy chain for more information.

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