REUTERS | Juan Carlos Ulate

July 2009 digest: School holidays, cricket and Japanese knotweed

Alice Cooper sang “School’s out for summer. Not only did July mark the start of the school holidays, it also marked the start of the summer vacation for the Royal Courts of Justice. Before the break, the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) had a variety of issues before it:

  • Did a pay-when-paid clause in a construction contract catch the employer’s insolvency? (It didn’t.)
  • Does the adjudicator’s decision give rise to a separate cause of action? (It does.)
  • Do professional consultants, such as architects, have to advise their clients when key personnel leave? (They do.)
  • Are enabling works at a power station excluded from the term “construction operations”? (They aren’t.)
  • Is injunctive relief available to stop an adjudication? (It isn’t.)

July also saw the TCC join the pilot scheme on electronic filing of documents and Lord Justice Jackson’s consultation on litigation costs close. We have to wait until the end of the year to discover what his recommendations are. We also have to wait until October before the next stage of the legislative process for the LDEDC Bill 2008, to see whether the amendments to the Construction Act 1996 will ever come to fruition.

Health and safety was on the agenda again:

  • With a consultation for a register on tower cranes. It’s hard not to notice that tower cranes are rather tall. They dominate the skyline, but cause incredible damage if they topple over. The register is designed to stop that.
  • Everyone knows that construction sites are dangerous places (even without a crane toppling over). A report into deaths in the industry has been published. It contains a number of recommendations, including a permanent Construction Minister.
  • Nuclear power is an emotive subject. The UK faces a number of challenges if it wants to build a new generation of power plants.

Mr Kerr’s blacklist is seldom out of the news. He has been fined £5,000 and enforcement notices have been sent to 17 construction companies. The Government is consulting to outlaw blacklists.

Another topic frequently in the news is the Wembley stadium litigation. It has been reported that trial has been listed for January 2011, with Coulson J presiding over matters. Apparently, he is planning his “judicial career with 2011 blanked out for [the parties]”.

Japanese knotweed has been the bane of gardeners and developers for many years, ever since the Victorians introduced it for its pretty white flowers. It seems help may finally be at hand, in the form of a little yellow and brown bug that just loves its sap.

The JCT expected its version 2 contracts would be published by now, along with an updated digital service, but we are still waiting for the digital version. Will these contracts be like buses? Nothing for ages and then they all come at once?

And finally, it may be 1-0, but can England really win back the Ashes?

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