REUTERS | David Mdzinarishvili

December 2012 digest: reflecting on a year gone by

Band Aid’s, Do they know it’s Christmas time:

“And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy!
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time.”

The holiday period is almost upon us, and so is a period of reflection, not only for the events in December, but for the rest of the year too. While we’ve published a list of key construction and engineering cases from the last six months, the dispute team has set out its top ten practical tips of the year. If you have a few spare minutes, why not take our Christmas quiz and see whether you’ve been keeping up-to-date.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement was one of the main talking points of December, and we told you about the construction, property, environmental and tax implications. That statement was accompanied by details of the government’s review of PFI, to be known as PF2. Nick Maltby wondered if it had been worth the wait.

Other publications this month included a BIM industrial strategy, a review of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a report from the Green Construction Board and a revised Code of Practice for the Green Deal. It was also announced that the so-called conservatory tax was being dropped from the review of Part L of the Building Regulations 2010.

The Jackson reforms are due to take effect in April 2013. While we expect the “big bang” to be grabbing headlines next year, it looks like we’ll have to wait just a little bit longer to see the exact details of the changes in the Statutory Instrument and making document.

The Michaelmas court term is drawing to a close and we have seen a number of interesting issues before the courts, including whether:

  • The date for deemed service of a party wall award ran from posting (it didn’t).
  • A document described as a payment guarantee was in fact a guarantee or a performance bond (it was a bond).
  • Several third parties had breached their duty of care in tort and had failed to warn of an inadequate design, leading to a serious personal injury (they hadn’t, on both counts).
  • Disputes under a settlement agreement were subject to an arbitration clause in the underlying contracts (they were).
  • The court should strike out a claim where the claimants had failed to serve particulars of claim once a stay of proceedings had lapsed (it didn’t).
  • Express warranties in a share sale agreement were only warranties and not representations (they were).

The TCC also gave a warning that it will take a tougher stance to the late lodging of counsel’s skeleton arguments.

In December’s Ask the team, we discussed whether a claim based on complex structure theory was a good claim, Geraldine Laing discussed the future of nuclear new build in the UK, Jonathan Cope looked at the use of experts in construction disputes, Estee Tan set out her do’s and don’ts of terminating a construction contract, Matt Molloy highlighted the fact that an adjudicator can’t change his mind in a subsequent decision and Kirstin Bardel looked at the differences between “carry out”, “procure” and “arrange”.

And finally, spare a thought for the lego brick that was squashed by researchers who wanted to know how tall a Lego tower could go!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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