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October 2012 digest: fork handles, four candles and adjudicators’ fees

John Clare, Remembrances:

“Summer’s pleasures they are gone like to visions everyone. And the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on. I tried to call them back but unbidden they are gone.”

In the 1970’s, the Two Ronnies made famous a sketch about four candles, or was it fork handles? During October, PLC Construction reached the milestone of fork handles, by which we mean our fourth birthday. We didn’t pop any champagne corks in the office, nor do we expect many were being popped to celebrate a year of the Construction Act 1996 amendments. Despite last year’s fanfare, the amendments have met with a muted reaction and there has been no reported judicial guidance on the new payment or adjudication provisions.

We suspect even fewer corks were popped following Lord Dyson’s judgment in PC Harrington v Systech, especially in some quarters of the construction industry. Now that it seems adjudicators will not be paid if they produce an unenforceable decision, we thought you’d be interested to see what Matt Molloy thinks about it.

While on the subject of adjudication, the TCC looked again at an adjudicator’s jurisdiction, this time relating to an ad-hoc agreement to adjudicate. We also discussed limiting submissions and the tactical use of counterclaims in adjudication.

The courts have also been busy during October, with judgments:

The Master of the Rolls confirmed that the Jackson LJ reforms of civil litigation will go ahead in April 2013 and PLC Dispute Resolution told you all about expert witnesses and interest claims. We also discussed settlement offers and set out advice on appointing experts.

For everyone interested in drafting contracts, rather than litigating over them, we reviewed our professional appointments, JCT schedules of amendment and acceleration agreement. We published FAQs on Building Information Modelling (BIM) and amended our copyright licences and the Pre-construction services agreement (PCSA) to cater for it. We told you about the RICS’ guidance on appointing a project manager, discussed UCTA 1977 in the context of professional appointments and contractual design liability after Walter Lilly v Mackay.

On the statutory liabilities front, the HSE’s fee for intervention (FFI) scheme came into operation this month, we told you about new rules relating to concealed gas flues and the review of Building Regulations 2010. The SFO issued revised policies relating to the Bribery Act 2010, including on hospitality. We also considered what happens when damage is discovered following party wall works.

Public procurement issues are always in the news, and this month we told you about the new public procurement directive, the government’s commitment to infrastructure and the possible outcomes of the PFI review, an EC implementation review and a review of Scottish public construction contracts.

The Green Deal and the Green Investment Bank (GIB) were also in the news, with a new CEO for the Green Deal, and a code of practice, European Commission approval and a launch date for the GIB.

Finally, two more consultations on High Speed Two (HS2) were published.

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