Outside view of RPC's transparent glass building.

The Week That Was - 4 February 2022

Published on 04 February 2022

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

Sizewell C nuclear plant receives £100m of government funding

This injection of funds has been provided to attract further financing from private investors. The proposed reactor will be a near replica of the Hinkley C plant, currently under construction in Somerset, and would generate enough energy to power six million homes and provide 7% of the UK’s energy needs.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said: “In light of high global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain’s future energy supply is bolstered by reliable, affordable, low carbon power that is generated in this country"

It is hoped that this plant will provide continuous, low carbon electricity at scale.

For further information, please click here.

Kier to recruit for 1,200 jobs across UK

Kier is looking to recruit up to 1,200 new employees to cover a range of roles, including technology, engineering, business analysts and sustainability co-ordinators. This represents a more than 10% increase in staff, with Kier currently employing c.11,000 people.

Kier is looking to recruit from a range of locations, sectors and backgrounds, including apprentices, graduates and from the Government's kickstart scheme which is aimed at 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit.

The recruitment drive comes at a time when Kier has a strong pipeline of work, and has recently returned its first annual pre-tax profit for 3 years.  Kier will face competition when it comes to recruitment, with a number of other firms announcing their recruitment ambitions. Mace is looking to hire an additional 2,000 employees, while Gleeds and Buro Happold are looking to double staff numbers by 2024 and 2026 respectively.

For further information, please click here.

Court of Appeal considers whether particulars of claim can be amended outside limitation period

In Mulalley & Co Ltd v Martlet Homes Ltd [2022], the Court of Appeal considered whether to uphold a decision allowing the Claimant to amend its Particulars of Claim, to incorporate a new claim which had been raised by way of its Reply to Defence, outside the limitation period under CPR 17.4.  At the original hearing, Pepperall J held that the paragraphs of the Reply containing a new claim should be struck out, however, permission was granted to amend their Particulars as it arose out of facts that were the same or substantially the same as those already in issue.

The Court of Appeal considered section 35 of the Limitation Act 1980 and CPR 17.4 as the starting position.  In delivering his Judgment, Coulson LJ concluded 1) it must be decided whether the amendments amount to a new cause of action and if so 2) it must then be considered whether the claim arose out of the same or substantially the same facts.  The Court of Appeal upheld Pepperall J's conclusions, finding the new cause of action arose from facts that had been pleaded within the original claim and put in issue in the defence.

The Defendant's appeal was dismissed.

A copy of the Judgment can be found here.

Crossrail: Back on Track?

In his monthly update to the London assembly transport committee Mark Wild, CEO of Crossrail Ltd, insisted that the project, which was originally due to open in December 2018, remains on track to open the central section in the first half of 2022.

The £18.6bn project is in the final stages of the programme, Trial Operations.  This involves operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the network for public use and fully tests the timetables.  Eight of the ten new central section stations have been commissioned and transferred to Transport for London, with Canary Wharf and Bond Street the final stations to be commissioned.

Mark Wild insists the Elizabeth Line (as Crossrail will be known) will launch a passenger service between Paddington and Abbey Wood in the first half of 2022, although a precise date has not yet been given.  Following the opening of the central section, direct services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield are expected to commence in Autumn 2022.  When this phase launches, services from Reading and Heathrow will operate through to Abbey Wood. Services from Shenfield will operate through to Paddington.Full end to end services are expected to start no later than May 2023.

For further information, please click here.

Recent case considers when a parties' dispute had crystallised in respect of adjudication

The recent case of BraveJoin Co Ltd v Prosperity Moseley Street Ltd (2021) has considered the position as to the meaning of dispute and crystallisation.
The Claimant had submitted invoices to the Defendant in the sum of c£77,500 that were unpaid.  There was a dispute and as such the adjudicator decided this gave him jurisdiction to reach a decision.  The Defendant argued there was no contract between the parties, however, on receipt of the invoices, it had issued a payment notice relating to three invoices.  As such, the adjudicator came to a decision that the Defendant was obliged to pay the amount set out in the payment notice.

The judge enforced the adjudicator's decision.  Mr Justice Eyre found that the Defendant's denial regarding liability to pay the Claimant's invoices itself indicated there was a dispute.  The adjudicator had jurisdiction to conclude that dispute and he decided that a sum of money was payable. Mr Justice Eyre stated that there was no defence with any real prospect of success to that claim and as such, awarded summary judgment for the claimant.
The judge also awarded the Claimant its costs on an indemnity basis, concluding that adjudication enforcement is very important and as the normal approach in adjudication enforcement cases is to award indemnity costs, there was no reason to move away from this.

A copy of the Judgment can be found here.
Thanks to Ellen Ryan, Jessica Yates, Ella Crawley-Till and Charlie Underwood for contributing to this week's edition.