Closeup of computer components

Fraser J is the latest High Court judge appointed to the TCC. His judgment in Science and Technology Facilities Council v MW High Tech Projects UK Ltd was one of the first that he handed down and the first one that I have written about.

It is good to see a fresh face in the TCC. With the retirement of both Ramsey J and Akenhead J, he is a much needed addition to the judgely fold. While some solicitors will be disappointed to have seen him move up to the bench (because they have lost an outstanding advocate), no doubt he’ll be an asset to it.  Continue reading

Larry Downing
REUTERS | Larry Downing

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) is now in force. This is a significant piece of legislation for consumers and retailers alike, but how will it impact on construction contracts?  Traders involved with domestic work for individuals will need to carefully consider the new rules as they may not be limited to small scale domestic projects. Continue reading

Dinuka Liyanawatte
REUTERS | Dinuka Liyanawatte

The meaning of construction operations (in section 105(1)) and the exceptions (under section 105(2)) are one of the more difficult areas of the Construction Act 1996 to get to grips with. We may know that they are the result of lobbying back in the 1990’s, but I’ve never really understood the rationale for them and it doesn’t make it any easier for those of us at the coal face of implementing the Act.

The latest power station steelwork to be the subject of argument under 105(2) came before Stuart-Smith J earlier this year in Severfield v Duro. Continue reading

Tobias Schwarz
REUTERS | Tobias Schwarz

Given the current climate created by declining oil prices, more pressure is being placed on government budgets in the Middle East. This month a new PPP law, specifically drafted to regulate partnerships between the public and private sectors in the delivery of projects, is due to come into force in Dubai. Could this be the start of the PPP as a viable project delivery model for costly government projects in the Middle East? Continue reading

REUTERS | Reuters

An employer must be allowed to decide what changes are made to the contract scope and therefore a contract will stipulate that variations are to be expressly instructed. Equally, unexpected difficulties in building the defined works may arise, which means that the scope has to be altered simply in order to complete the project. If the contractor cannot get formal approval for such “necessary” changes then the danger arises that it will have to proceed “at risk”. In other words, the employer may refuse to give a formal instruction, which is the condition precedent to payment under the contract.

One way of avoiding this problem is to provide that when certain specified events occur that necessitate a change to the scope, a variation is deemed to have been automatically triggered, without the need for the employer to give a formal instruction. Continue reading

Plant growing through a crack in a stone

The Supreme Court has handed down judgment in the cases of Cavendish Square Holding BV v Talal El Makdessi and ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis. It was not just the construction sector that waited patiently and speculated cautiously as to what the court would do with the rule against penalties. Would it confirm the current rule, abolish it, extend it, restrict its scope, or change the formulation? The prospects of obtaining a simple clear answer from the court were not promising: two cases with very different factual circumstances were heard together, there were seven judges on the bench, and the case was complicated by recent changes to the law in Australia and the Consumers’ Association “intervening” in the court proceedings. Continue reading

Tobias Schwarz
REUTERS | Tobias Schwarz

Last week saw the launch of RICS’ new construction and engineering arbitration service. Now, before I go any further, I should declare an interest. I chaired the working party responsible for developing the service, so I acknowledge that I may be somewhat biased.

Why bother?

A question I have been asked on a number of occasions is why is RICS attempting to revitalise domestic construction and engineering arbitration in the UK? Continue reading

Hannibal Hanschke
REUTERS | Hannibal Hanschke

Never before have there been so many ways to resolve construction and engineering disputes quickly and flexibly in England and Wales. The Technology and Construction Court (TCC) is piloting two speedier procedures and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has recently launched two quicker arbitration procedures, any of which could challenge the supremacy of adjudication as the favoured dispute resolution forum for construction and engineering disputes. Continue reading