The Government has rejected proposed amendments to the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill 2008 (LDEDC Bill 2008) as it completed its committee stage in the House of Lords (see our Legal update). The LDEDC Bill 2008 begins the report stage on 17 March 2009.
On 3 March 2009, the final day of the committee stage, the Government made clear that it would not support any of the proposed amendments to the construction provisions of the LDEDC Bill 2008. In response, all of the proposed amendments were withdrawn or not formally proposed.
The most controversial amendments had been those supported by the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group (SEC), on which we have commented in our previous blog post. While Lord Brett, on behalf of the Government, recognised that the SEC represents a significant number of small and medium size businesses, he pointed out that the LDEDC Bill 2008 had been the subject of widespread consultation, but the SEC stood alone in suggesting its changes.
While the Government rejected the proposed amendments, there will be further opportunities to amend the LDEDC Bill 2008 as it continues through Parliament. Lord Tope suggested that changes may be proposed at the report stage later this month.
Even if the LDEDC Bill 2008 becomes law without any amendment, the Scheme for Construction Contracts 1998 (Scheme) will be reviewed in the near future. Any changes to the Scheme could, potentially, have as big an impact as changes to the Construction Act 1996.