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Making changes or variations to a contract



Thu 21 September 2023 Making changes or variations to a contract

Changing a contract

Contract variations are very common and can be a complex and risky area. Avoiding legal disputes which go anywhere near a court or tribunal is the best approach.

Our advice is to think about the likelihood of changes when the contract is negotiated, plan ahead and stay vigilant about the ways contracts can end up being changed inadvertently or by being passive.

We draft, advise on and review contracts and can guide you through any necessary variations to a contract or concerns about a potential dispute arising.

Key principles which apply to contractual changes

It’s important to always bear in mind :-

Other reasons a contract may need to be varied

Not all reasons for changing a contract are related to giving 1 party a commercial or other benefit. Sometimes, contracts need to be changed for more neutral reasons, and in this situation, whilst the overall position remains that mutual consent is needed, in reality, neither party should really object. Changes of this type include :-

Variations to building contracts

Changes are particularly common and often problematic and the cause of disputes in building and construction contracts. With some scale building contracts such as extensions or loft conversions or renovations, it is important to ensure your contract is clear about what is included, usually with a  specification and a process for agreeing what will constitute extras in the project.

Changes to employment contracts

Employers often need flexibility in being able to make best use of their workforce. However, seeking to impose changes, whether to job role, place of work or even pay, carry great risks for employers as these types of changes, where not agreed, are highly likely to be fundamental breaches of contract and give the employee the right to resign and if employed for more than 2 years, to claim constructive dismissal.

Employers can  somet8me avoid difficulties and disputes relating top variations by including ceratin terms in policies and procedures which are expressly stated to be not part of the main employment contract and where the employee agrees at the outset of employment that changes can be unilaterally made by the employer.


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