CPC, CFO/CCC, VP CONUNDRUM
Back in 2018, a construction lawyer posed to me a question, “how the Architect can certifies certificate of Vacant-Possession (VP) without first issuing the certificate of Practical-Completion (CPC)?” Apparently many people is confuse with the salient differences between these, CPC, Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO), Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) and VP.
Foremost, the lifecycle of project ends ‘contractually’ with a CPC, which is easier to recognise than define, no hard and fast rules; existence of latent (unknown) defects cannot prevent practical completion, defects are d’minimis; in relation to patent defects, there is no difference between uncompleted items of work and an item of defective work that requires to be remedied; 'trifling' patent defects does not preclude practical completion; whether an item is 'trifling' is a matter of fact and degree to be measured against the intended purpose of the works; and mere fact that a defect is irremediable does not mean that works are not practically complete. A CPC is a demarcation of a completion within the construe of a construction contract, as provided by the standard form of contract. Practical-completion and its variant is a termed used also in other international forms.
Second, the lifecycle of project ends ‘statutorily’ with a CFO/CCC, which is objectively done by ‘self-certification’ and issuance of the Borang-F, upon completion of inspection and submission to the relevant authorities. This is a closure of a statutory-undertakings that building has been constructed in accordance to the approved-plans (drawings). Here, the principal submitting person undertakes statutory liability of the entire building for live.
Third, issuance of CFO/CCC is a condition precedent to the issuance of certificate for VP, marking the handing over of vacant possession of housing to purchasers with water and electricity ready for connection. Collectively, these certifications are statutorily required under the law. Other certifications for issuance of Strata Titles and Share-Titles are also warranted, marking that the strata plans are in accordance to the approved-plans/drawings.
So, logically, by order of priority CPC have to be issued first, before the issuance of CFO/CCC and ends with VP. However, there is not statutory requirement for the issuance of CPC prior to issuance of CFO/CCC as these certifications operate under different conditions. Saying thus, there are events that CFO/CCC has been issued before CPC. The legal-question is whether issuance of CFO/CCC actually signify the completion of the said building, i.e. practical-completion? If so, whether CFO/CCC can replace CPC, or deemed CPC to have been issued?
Unfortunately, the short answer is ‘no’. CPC, although, ill-defined, remains the opinion of the Architect. CFO/CCC, on the other hands, is the undertaking of the Architect. The level of liability differs and the implication to the respective legislation also differed. Thus, one cannot equate CPC with CFO/CCC.
Back to our lawyer friend, in the heated debate, his face turned rosy when I say, ‘no’ … and we did finally ‘chilled-out’ in the ‘other-bar’. He remains one of our ardent supporter in PAM as ‘industrial-partner’ and occasionally maintain his construction-law in 2 minutes via youtube.
 Mears v Costplan  EWCA Civ 502
 PAM Form of Building Contract, i.e. PAM1998, 2006, 2018
 JCTSBC2006: Practical Completion; FIDIC: Taking Over Certificate; NEC: Completion
 S.25; 25A, Uniform Building Bylaws 1984 UBBL
 Statute of Limitation or Longstop does not apply
 Third-Schedule G; H Cl.3, Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 (HDA)
 S.9(1)(b)(i), Strata Title Act 1985; S.6(3), Strata Management Act 2013
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