REUTERS | Andrew Winning

Cases and developments in construction law: 2009

2009 will not, perhaps, be remembered as a ground breaking year in construction law. There has been no single case that has got people talking like, say, Melville Dundas v George Wimpey did, and adjudication-related cases have continued to show that the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) is extremely reluctant to allow parties to avoid the effect of decision on a technicality. Nevertheless, there have been some notable judgments which impact on the field of construction law.

We have chosen to discuss the following cases (all of which, PLC reported on at the time):

  • Chartbrook v Persimmon Homes, where the House of Lords considered the rules on the interpretation of contracts.
  • Dobson v Thames Water, where the Court of Appeal looked at the correct measure of damages for nuisance claims.
  • North Midland v Lentjes, where Ramsey J in the TCC considered the scope of “construction operations” within section 105 of the Construction Act 1996.
  • RTS Flexible v Muller, where the Court of Appeal looked at the potential risk for a party who carries out work under a letter of intent.
  • Thermal Energy v Lentjes, where HHJ Davies QC in the TCC refused to enforce an adjudicator’s decision because it did not contain adequate reasons.

For our detailed article on these cases, click here.

In our review of the year, a number of cases didn’t quite make the cut. For example:

  • Bole v Hunstbuild, a Court of Appeal decision on liability under the Defective Premises Act 1972.
  • Corby Group litigation, a high profile litigation about the responsibility for birth defects in the Corby area.
  • Jim Ennis Construction v Premier Asphalt, on the limitation period applicable to claims seeking final determination of an adjudicator’s decision.
  • Linnett v Halliwells LLP, on the liability for adjudicator’s fees when jurisdictional objections were taken.

(PLC reported on these case: see their updates on Bole, Corby, Jim Ennis and Linnett.)

It’s difficult to know at this stage what 2010 will bring, but if the new adjudication provisions of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (LDEDC Act 2009) are brought into effect, it seems a fair guess that they will be the subject of a flood of cases testing their limits.

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