“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”
How time flies. This month, Practical Law Construction celebrated its sixth birthday. It doesn’t seem like five minutes since we launched the service but, since then, we have covered all of the key developments in the construction industry, with an eye on the practical implications. As we don’t have a crystal ball, it’s hard to predict what will happen in the coming months and years but, regardless of what the government or industry throws at us, we will be here to guide you.
The blogs have been one of our key features since launch, with almost 1,000 posts published in the last six years. This month saw revamped blog pages, with new author and company pages and striking imagery to accompany our contributors’ views:
- On ADR, Elizabeth Repper discussed the mediation of neighbour disputes, Jessica Stephens looked at multi-tiered dispute resolution clauses and Jonathan Cope considered some of the issues that arise with expert determination (twice).
- On adjudication, Catherine Gelder discussed the role of experts, Matt Molloy looked at the use of Part 8 and Tim Hillier highlighted some topical issues.
- On litigation, Michael Mendelblat considered the reasonableness of a settlement agreement, Simon Liddiard looked at whether a liquidated damages clause can become a penalty if the contract is varied and Matt Molloy cautioned experts to take care with their evidence.
- On building contracts, Matthew Heywood considered force majeure clauses in light of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.
After the courts’ summer recess, a number of interesting issues were considered, including whether:
- A party should be prevented from adjudicating (the Scottish Inner House said no).
- A refusal to mediate was unreasonable (it was), but there was no costs sanction due to other factors. Elizabeth Repper highlighted why the judgment is important.
- A stay of court proceedings should be ordered to allow the parties’ dispute to be determined by a dispute adjudication board (DAB) under the FIDIC Silver Book procedure (it should). Jonathan Cope discussed some of the implications.
- An adjudicator made the right decision about his jurisdiction (he did), which meant the court rejected the application for declaratory relief.
- An alleged novation gave rise to a threshold jurisdictional challenge (it didn’t).
On the public procurement front, October saw considerable court activity, with:
- Gatwick Airport prevented from awarding a new contract for air traffic control services.
- Willmott Dixon unsuccessfully challenging a public procurement procedure.
- Successful applications by the Ministry of Defence and Scotland Excel and Renfrewshire Council to lift the automatic suspension on the award of a contract in both cases.
- GroupM UK’s application for early disclosure adjourned for being premature.
Simon Taylor looked at the regime in the draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and its application to health care services. There was also another consultation on public procurement reform, September’s monthly case digest and a discussion on the remedies for failing to comply with the new below-threshold regime.
In other news, the HSE launched a site aimed at construction work, there was a consultation on the infrastructure provider for the Thames Tideway Tunnel Project, a consultation on the Right to Build, approval of revised plans for Hinckley Point nuclear power station and a delay to implementing the latest CJC guidance on experts.
And finally, Ramsey J retired from the bench this month. Many construction practitioners will remember him, either from his time as a barrister at Keating Chambers, as the Judge in Charge of the Technology and Construction Court (a position he held until September 2010) or, more latterly, as the judge leading the implementation of the Jackson reforms. Undoubtedly, it will not be long before we seem him presiding over international arbitrations too!