A commercial client is anyone (individual, partnership or organisation) who has construction work carried out for them that is done in connection with a business, whether the business operates for profit or not. A client who has construction work carried out for them that is not done in connection with a business (usually on their own home or the home of a family member) is a domestic client. Commercial clients include local authorities, housing associations or other landlords who own domestic properties.
The commercial client has a major influence over the way their project is procured and managed. Regardless of the size of the project, the client has contractual control, appoints designers and contractors, and determines the money, time and other resources available. Because of this, CDM 2015 makes a commercial client accountable for the impact their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on their project.
A commercial client’s duties begin from the very start of a project, ie as soon as there has been a decision to go ahead with the project and early planning and design work begins. A client’s duties continue to the end of a project and beyond. The commercial client will continue to have responsibility for health and safety issues that arise from the maintenance and use of the building after construction work is finished. This responsibility continues until the client disposes of their interest in the building.
Most clients, particularly those who only occasionally commission construction work, will not be experts and do not need to have detailed skills, knowledge or experience of the construction process. However, they must make suitable arrangements for their project so that it can be managed in a way that secures health and safety. This includes appointing people with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and (where an organisation), the organisational ability to carry out the work.
Guidance on what a commercial client needs to do to under CDM 2015 is available on the roles and responsibilities of a commercial client page.