CDM coordinator role change
Who can be a principal designer?

CDM coordinator role change

Following parliamentary approval of the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2015,(1) over the six-month transition period from April 6 2015, the CDM coordinator role on existing projects will disappear and be replaced – on projects continuing after October 6 2015 – by the role of principal designer.

If the project had a CDM coordinator immediately before April 6 2015 and will finish by October 6 2015, a principal designer need not be appointed. However, if such a project will not finish by October 6 2015, a principal designer must be appointed in writing before this date. In both cases, the CDM coordinator's revised duties during the transition period – including handover of the health and safety file – are set out in Schedule 4(5) of the regulations.

If, immediately before April 6 2015, the project involved (or was reasonably foreseen to involve) more than one contractor and had no appointed CDM coordinator or principal contractor, and the construction phase had already started, the client may appoint in writing a designer as principal designer (and must appoint in writing a contractor as principal contractor as soon as practicable after April 6 2015). If no principal designer is appointed, the principal contractor must prepare and update the health and safety file. However, if the construction phase did not start before April 6 2015, the client must appoint in writing a designer with control over the construction phase as principal designer (and a contractor as principal contractor) as soon as practicable (and in any event before the construction phase begins). If a relevant project has only one contractor and the construction phase has started, the contractor must draw up or arrange for a construction phase plan as soon as practicable after April 6 2015.(1)

Who can be a principal designer?

The principal designer will have control over the pre-construction phase and will be appointed in writing by the client. 'Designer' is defined by the regulations as:

"any person (including a client, contractor or other person referred to in these Regulations) who in the course or furtherance of a business— (a) prepares or modifies a design; or (b) arranges for, or instructs, any person under their control to do so, relating to a structure, or to a product or mechanical or electrical system intended for a particular structure, and a person is deemed to prepare a design where a design is prepared by a person under their control… 'design'... includes drawings, design details, specifications and bills of quantities (including specification of articles or substances) relating to a structure, and calculations prepared for the purpose of a design."

A designer (including a principal designer) must have the skills, knowledge and experience and – if an organisation – the organisational capability necessary to fulfil the appointed role in a manner that secures the health and safety of anyone affected by the project. Designers (or contractors) must not accept an appointment unless they fulfil these conditions and the person appointing them must take "reasonable steps" to satisfy themselves that they fulfil the conditions.

For further information on this topic please contact Chris Fellowes at Mayer Brown International LLP by telephone (+44 20 3130 3000) or email ( The Mayer Brown International LLP website can be accessed at


(1) Available at; Health and Safety Executive guidance on the regulations available at

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