REUTERS | Stefan Wermuth
REUTERS | Stefan Wermuth

On 5 December 2019, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in Manchikalapati and others v Zurich Insurance plc and East West Insurance Company Ltd. The underlying case concerned a large block of flats in Manchester that were seriously defective.

There are a number of lessons to learn from the Court of Appeal proceedings and much that is of use for construction and insurance practitioners alike.
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REUTERS | Shamil Zhumatov

First things first, Happy New Year to you all.

The case I want to talk to you about this week is ISG Construction Ltd v English Architectural Glazing Ltd, which was handed-down by HHJ Stephen Davies in December 2019. Those of you already aware of the case will know that it concerns ISG’s Part 8 application following an adjudicator’s decision it was dissatisfied with. Although the Part 8 issues raised are interesting (and I will briefly touch on them) as the title suggests, I want to focus on a different part of the case, namely a particular aspect of ISG’s bespoke extension of time provisions. Continue reading

REUTERS | Corbis

January is undoubtedly the most popular time of year for new year resolutions, but the Business & Property Courts (B&PCs) got a head start on all of us by publishing their 2020 resolutions in early December.

As many of you will be aware, in 2018 the B&PCs set up a Witness Evidence Working Group, consisting of B&PC judges (including Waksman J of the TCC), barristers, solicitors and in-house counsel, to consider whether factual witness statements in the High Court are fit for purpose. The working group has now published a set of recommended reforms that will be relevant for anyone practising in the TCC. Continue reading

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At the start of a new decade where automated, self-executing smart contracts are likely to become more commonplace, perhaps also in the construction sector, it is interesting to consider how such a development might impact construction dispute resolution processes. A smart contract is simply a computer protocol intended to facilitate, verify and enforce performance of a contract. In short, it is about contract law and related business practices being facilitated through the design of electronic commerce protocols. Understanding the role blockchain technologies can play in this context is key.

Notwithstanding the general success of construction adjudication as an interim form of construction dispute resolution, almost all final determination forms of construction dispute resolution remain lengthy and costly processes for all those involved. Marginal net economic wins even for the “successful” party regularly lead to both parties feeling dissatisfaction by the time the dispute is resolved. Even in the case of adjudication – and alternative dispute resolution processes – sunk costs can often feel disproportionate to the sums disputed, and there is an appetite for cheaper, swifter solutions – especially to resolving more straightforward and lower value claims. Continue reading

REUTERS | Ivan Alvarado

Or should that be waving goodbye to the “one-ders”, the “tweenies”, the “tensies” or simply the “tens”?

I wasn’t sure what you are supposed to call the last decade and an internet search didn’t prove much help either, with various options coming up.

Perhaps you have a favourite way to refer to the last decade. I couldn’t decide which one I preferred, although I did think there was something rather charming about the Australian idea of “one-der”, mixing up the words “wonder” and the number one, which was part of every year. It begs the question of what you’d call the wonders of the last ten years, but that is another blog entirely. Today I’m looking at those things I’d like to see in 2020 (and beyond). Continue reading

REUTERS | Russell Cheyne

We don’t see the section 106 residential occupier exemption appearing in the law reports all that often, possibly because the law surrounding its meaning is fairly well settled, particularly since Coulson J’s 2013 judgment in Westfields Construction Ltd v Lewis.

Therefore, I was rather intrigued by the judgment in Howsons Ltd v Redfearn and another. It dates from the summer but is an interesting read because the judge, HHJ Nigel Bird, appears to have extended the section 106 residential occupier test to cover the question of lawfulness of occupation. Continue reading

REUTERS | Thomas Peter

Since my colleague Eveline Strecker last blogged about modular construction, it has continued to develop in popularity. The more we see of modular, the more it becomes clear that it is a very different beast to “traditional” construction projects, demanding an evolution in procurement routes and contract content.

The problems with shoehorning a modular project into the “traditional” contract mould were aptly demonstrated by the recent case of Bennett (Construction) Ltd v CIMC MBS Ltd (formerly Verbus Systems Ltd). Fellow blogger, Jonathan Cope, wrote an excellent blog looking at this case in detail. In this blog I want to focus on what this case tells us about the new approach that modular demands.    Continue reading

REUTERS | Siphiwe Sibeko

2020 is looking to be a year in which the tax burden of companies operating in the UK construction sector is likely to increase. This is due, first, to the delayed implementation of the VAT reverse charge (now 1 October 2020) and secondly, to major changes in the UK tax treatment of off-payroll workers. In this blog we discuss the implications of the changes to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as “IR35”) and the steps companies affected by these changes can take. Continue reading

REUTERS | REUTERS/ Amir Cohen

Last week I headed to Dublin to attend the SCL’s annual lunch where Marion Smith QC was speaking. Just by coincidence, on my flight over there, I was reading the latest International Arbitration Survey: Driving Efficiency in International Construction Disputes, produced by the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) (where Marion is a visiting senior lecturer) and Pinsent Masons.

After Brexit, it is fair to say that even Dublin will be more “international” than many of us have become accustomed to, but I digress. Back to the construction arbitration survey. Continue reading