REUTERS | Sharif Karim

December 2014 digest: Autumn Statement, NIP 2014 and pay less notices

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility:

“Lady Middleton… exerted herself to ask Mr Palmer if there was any news in the paper. ‘No, none at all,’ he replied, and read on.”

It is often said that today’s news is tomorrow’s fish ‘n’ chip paper (even if only metaphorically, since they use white paper nowadays!). Whether that can ever be said about court judgments is debatable but, in the last two months, we have seen two landmark adjudication enforcement decisions.

Last month it was all about Eurocom v Siemensthis month was all about ISG v Seevic. If you missed Edwards-Stuart J’s judgment, we now know that failing to serve a pay less notice means the employer has agreed the value of the works the contractor is claiming for on an interim basis. If an adjudicator is asked to confirm that, a second adjudicator cannot then value that interim claim. Jonathan Cope explained some of the practical implications.

Matt Molloy also looked at pay less notices, but in the context of termination and the judgment in Harding v Paice.

Other December stories that kept fish and chips warm included the Chancellor’s last Autumn Statement before next year’s general election. Prior to the day itself, all the talk was about money for infrastructure projects (with the National Infrastructure Plan 2014 published) but, subsequently, the stamp duty changes grabbed all of the headlines. You will be pleased if you are one of the 98% that should benefit from those changes and only time will tell whether it will encourage house builders to build more homes. In the meantime, you can read about the key construction, environment and property aspects.

After a few quiet months in adjudication judgment terms, in addition to ISG v Seevic, the TCC considered whether:

  • A sub-contract incorporated the adjudication provisions from a main contract (it didn’t). Crispin Winser considered the case in detail.
  • A contract to install an industrial conveyor belt system was a construction contract (it was).
  • An adjudicator could sue either party for his fees as he didn’t lack jurisdiction or breach the rules of natural justice (he could).

The TCC also found a building contractor liable to residential owners of two apartment blocks under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972.

In contrast, it was a quiet month in public procurement terms, with just November’s case digest and John Bennett’s thoughts on competitive negotiation under the draft procurement regulations.

On the opinion front:

With ISG v Seevic, payment and pay less notices in construction contracts have been in the spotlight, but the government is also consulting on a new reporting requirement for payment practices. The aim is to let parties see which customers are good payers. If you want to have your say, the consultation closes in February 2015.

In other news, the new experts protocol came into force, RICS published a guidance note on mediationCIArb launched its dispute board rules and we told you about the key construction cases of the last six months. We saw the government’s first anti-corruption plan, information on the planned changes to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) and news from Practical Law’s second energy conference.

And finally, for a little bit of fun, why not have a go at Berwin Leighton Paisner’s festive wordsearch.

See you in 2015.

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