Thanks to all of those who came to our first autumn seminar. On the 31 October 2019, delegates and special guests joined us at the Institution of Civil Engineers’ head quarters in central London, to discuss some current issues (and of course, to enjoy the excellent breakfast rolls).
Ruth Sunaway and Oli Worth started off the morning by running through the regulatory regime on fire safety. They provided an update on the latest on ACM cladding removal, and used a case study to illustrate how to prove causation when a fire is worsened through inadequate fire stopping. Ruth and Oli noted that in their experience, even where the building regulations have been complied with at design stage, workmanship issues are still commonly present. Indeed, even where there is contractor default in installing fire stopping, it can be difficult for employers to prove loss as a result where a fire breaks out; the contractor is not on the hook for all damage, only the additional damage suffered as a result of the inadequate fire stopping. That can be a difficult measure to undertake.
Stefan Harris-Wright and Rory Abel then talked Brexit (untroubled by presenting on what was once ‘Exit Day’). Stefan and Rory mentioned that in their experience, for some considerable time after the referendum vote, few projects gave any thought to the implications of Brexit. However, as ‘Exit Day’ has become a more real prospect, there has been a considerable uptake in enquiries, particularly during 2019. The main implications of Brexit on contracts (potential increased costs, delays and such like) were discussed, with a view cast on which party was most likely to be exposed. The default position was not good news for contractors, but Stefan and Rory’s advice was that mitigating this by agreeing bespoke amendments was key.
After the break, we enjoyed a talk from Simon Hargreaves QC from Keating Chambers. Simon encouraged audience participation as he ran through various examples of clauses from cases that were said to be conditions precedent, with delegates voting on whether they thought they had been found to be such, or not. It quickly became apparent that the case law was unclear, and often directly contradictory, although Simon helpfully noted this meant that parties could argue whichever way they liked with apparent judicial support.
Finally – before an interesting panel discussion which rounded the morning off – Gary Kitt from Arcadis spoke on delay analysis. Gary has extensive experience acting on a tribunal, in particular as adjudicator and arbitrator, so has seen countless delay claims put to him. His practical explanation of what he prefers and (probably even more importantly, what he disapproves of) with regards to claim style was particularly appreciated by the audience.
We are now planning our next seminars, which are likely to be in the spring. Please look out for further details via email, on our website or at https://www.linkedin.com/in/birketts-construction-team. Our team also regularly speak for external organisations (recent presentations have been given to the RICS, the CIOB, CIArb and CICEs) and deliver bespoke training to clients.
This article is from the autumn 2019 issue of Cornerstone, our newsletter for those working within the construction industry. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. Law covered as at November 2019.
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The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at November 2019.