At the beginning of the year I wrote about some of the things I’d like to see in 2009. Just over half way through the year, I thought it was time to review that list, to see where we are.
As expected, cash flow has been at the forefront of most people’s minds. A number of high-profile construction companies have become insolvent, although recent reports suggest that there is a slowing-down of insolvency, particularly amongst the small and medium sized companies. As you might expect, this has been reflected in a number of companies failing to pay my fees. Thankfully the number is quite small.
While on the subject of fees, I’m grateful to Chris Linnett for clarifying with the court the nature of the parties’ liability for the adjudicator’s fees, particularly the responding party, who often doesn’t sign the terms and conditions of appointment. It may not arise often, but it’s good to know both parties are liable, even without a signature, particularly in these recessionary times.
I have seen an increasing number of disputes, particularly in relation to speculative developments, and the dispute resolution side of my practice has never been busier.
Much has been written about the proposed changes to the Construction Act 1996, but we aren’t any closer to the legislation making it on to the statute books. We may have to wait until October for the next stage of the legislative process but more worrying is the news that the draft amendments to the Scheme will not even be available for consultation until winter 2010/11. By then, we are likely to have a new Government, let alone another Construction Minister. It’s likely to be a case of “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” to Mr Lucas.
Of all the other things that I wished for in 2009, it’s appropriate to comment on just two:
- The abolition of 4 hole dividers. Really, parties please take note. I wasn’t joking. They are infuriating!
- West Ham avoided relegation (they finished in the top ten – who’d have thought that in January??), although they have succumbed to the banking crisis that hit Iceland (country, not frozen food retailer) and have new owners. Alphabetically at least, we start the new season in 18th place. Not far from where we started the new year!