REUTERS | Gary Hershorn

Will they ever get it right? The Construction Contracts Bill 2008

Well, it looks like we might finally be getting the amendments to the Construction Act 1996 that we were promised by Gordon Brown over four years ago.  After a review by Sir Michael Latham and two consultations, a draft Bill was eventually published by DBERR in July 2008 (July 2008 Bill) (see Legal update).

Many interested parties (such as the Society of Construction Law (SCL), the Technology and Construction Solicitors Association (TeCSA) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)) hurried away to study the July 2008 Bill and prepare their comments.

They gathered at a conference organised by the Kings College Construction Law Association and the Society of Construction Law on the day before comments on the July 2008 Bill had to be submitted to DBERR.

Those of us expecting blood on the floor of the lecture theatre were pleasantly surprised (although no doubt some were disappointed) because everyone appeared to be broadly in agreement.  Yes, it is good that the July 2008 Bill was at last in existence and yes, it is generally pointing in the right direction. However, the detail of the July 2008 Bill is not what the industry wants and, in my view, the drafting is likely to create more, rather than fewer, disputes.

Whether parliament can find time to debate the amendments is altogether another matter, and may depend on the priority given to the July 2008 Bill by the new business secretary, Lord Mandelson (or his successor).

To find out more about my views on the July 2008 Bill, click here.

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