Outside glass view of RPC building.

The Week That Was - 17 March 2023

Published on 17 March 2023

Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

No notice, no Act in party wall disputes – Power and Kyson v Shah [2023] EWCA Civ 239

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that adjoining owners cannot rely on the dispute resolution process under the Party Wall Act 1996 if the Building Owner has failed to serve a notice under s3 of the Act, either before or after the works are carried out.

In practical terms, this means that a party wall surveyor has no jurisdiction to make a party wall award.  As a result, the Adjoining Owner would need to bring a claim through the courts to seek any remedies.  The potentially very expensive consequences of this decision will no doubt encourage both Building Owners and Adjoining Owners to seek service of a s3 notice.

To read the judgment, please see here.

Circular construction could reduce carbon emissions by 40%

The Green Alliance has published a report showing that construction, demolition and excavation work generated 62% of the UK's waste in 2018.  The group has called on the Government to impose targets to reduce the use of raw materials and demolitions and instead, increase retrofits.  This view has been echoed by prominent members of the industry, including the co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council who has advocated for the removal of VAT on refurbishment works. Currently it is often cheaper to demolish a building than restore it, which gives little incentive to developers to pursue this route.  The focus should move towards the use of reusable materials and building conservation in order to meet the country's net zero goals.

To read the report, please see here.

East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP) subject to criticism

A project for the construction of a new pipeline designed to transport oil drilled in a Ugandan national park to a port in Tanzania has come under global criticism.  The project comes at a difficult time when reliance on oil is being balanced against the need to meet global net zero objectives.
The International Energy Agency has previously stated that no new oil and gas fields could be built, in order to stay within the safe limits of global heating.  A large number of banks and insurance companies have publicly declared they will not be financing the project.
Total Energies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the backers of the project, state they have conducted appropriate environmental assessments but have not provided any details.

To read more, please see here.

Quarter of allocated funds for levelling-up to go unspent

The UK Government's levelling-up department is set to spend 25% less (a reduction of £2.5bn) on regeneration projects this year than previously planned.

Almost all of the unspent money relates to capital spending on housing or housing-related projects, including £1bn originally intended for new affordable homes this year.  The levelling-up department blames "market conditions", "economic volatility" and "delivery delays" on the intended changes to capital expenditure.

The amount unspent is expected to be pushed into future years.

To read more, please click here (behind a paywall).

Research shows young people lack interest in construction careers

Research conducted by City & Guilds has shown that only 6% of young people want to pursue a career in the construction industry, with only 2% of young women surveyed planning on a construction career.  This is concerning research when considering the current skills shortage in the industry and the fact that it is predicted there will be 250,000 vacancies in the construction industry in the period from 2022 to 2027, although 34,000 of these jobs are brand-new roles that did not exist before.

To read more, please see here.

Construction output in 2023 off to slow start

Despite growth in the economy overall, output in the construction industry was down 1.7% (in volume terms) in January 2023, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics.  This was the weakest performance since June 2022, which saw output drop by 2%.  The downturn is largely due to a drop in new infrastructure and private housing work, as well as poor weather at the start of the year.

To read more, please see here.


Thank you to Laura Sponti, Charlie Underwood and Lauren Butler for contributing to this week's edition.
Disclaimer: The information in this publication is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  We attempt to ensure that the content is current as at the date of publication, but we do not guarantee that it remains up to date.  You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.