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Last edited 08 Dec 2021
Duty in building design and construction
In its most general sense, a duty is a responsibility or obligation to act or perform in a certain way. For example, employees are duty-bound to carry out the tasks and actions required as part of their job.
In terms of economics, the term ‘duty’ refers to a type of tax that is levied by a state. It is often used in the context of customs and taxes on overseas purchases. In relation to property, an estate duty (also known as inheritance tax) is levied on the estate of someone who dies or on the inheritance that someone else receives from someone who dies. This is known informally as a ‘death duty’. Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is payable on the purchase or transfer of property or land in the UK which has a value above a certain threshold. For more information, see Stamp duty.
In construction, a large number of duties may arise, such as:
- A duty of care to ensure that another party does not suffer unreasonable harm or loss that can arise as a result of contractual obligations and/or the tort of negligence. For more information, see Duty of care.
- There is no general duty to warn in English law, however, there are circumstances in which such a duty can exist. Where there is a contract, a duty to warn may arise in relation to dangers of which a party ought to have been aware. In addition, there may be a limited express duty to point out discrepancies in the contract documents. For more information, see Duty to warn.
- A duty of good faith may arise in international law.
- The duty of an adjudicator to act impartially.
- Obligations of duty holders, such as those arising under the CDM regulations.
- A duty to inform insurers of material facts.
- The Localism Act 2011 placed a legal ‘duty to cooperate’ on local planning authorities.
The word duty may also be used in relation to the durability or robustness of a product, such as in the phrase 'heavy duty'.
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