REUTERS | Carlos Barria

What does 2011 hold for the construction industry?

Two years ago I asked the question, “Will the dawn of the new year bring any changes to the construction industry, or will it be more of the same?”.

Over the last two years we have seen significant changes, with the on-going recession resulting in a number of high-profile insolvencies, the first coalition government since the war and the biggest cuts to public spending in decades. I thought that we would see a continued squeeze on cash flow, and an ever-increasing number of disputes. I wasn’t wrong. With the public spending cuts only just starting to bite, now is just the beginning of even more belt-tightening and, as ever, more fall-out in the construction industry. On the plus side, Crossrail and the 2012 Olympic building programme are proceeding and the Olympics at least, is on time.

I also referred to the amendments to the Construction Act 1996 and anticipated even more adjudications as a result of dropping the ”in writingrule. Those amendments still haven’t arrived, although things do look more likely for 2011. It may be 2012 before we (in dispute resolution circles) really start to see the impact of the changes on construction contracts, but you never know. I hope that the changes are implemented swiftly, as the industry has already waited far too long.

Of all the other things I said I would like to see in 2009, some are still relevant for 2011:

  • The abolition of 4 hole dividers. Really, do I need to say more? You know who you are!
  • The increased use of the CPR Part 8 procedure in respect of jurisdictional challenges before or during an adjudication. This could reduce the number of cases that end up before TCC judges for enforcement.
  • The stabilisation of the property market. Surely everyone does.
  • An increase in the use of adjudication internationally. Parlez vous francais anyone?
  • A pupillage system for adjudicators (to address the fact that the process is now far more complex than was envisaged 10 years ago).
  • Fewer ANBs.
  • To get paid, either within a reasonable time of issuing a decision or (in some instances) at all.

and finally…

  • West Ham to avoid relegation. Yet again, we are on the cusp of playing Championship football, even if we may have a fancy, shiny new stadium in a couple of years to play in!

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