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The Week That Was - 5 November 2021

05 November 2021. Published by Ben Goodier, Partner and Sarah O'Callaghan, Associate

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

Autumn Budget 2021: key announcements for construction industry 

Few announcements directly targeted the construction sector, but nonetheless the focus on "building back greener", levelling up and general infrastructure investment will be of benefit to the construction industry.  Some of the key announcements are listed below: 

  • "building back greener" - £6.1 billion to back the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, £380 million for the offshore wind sector and £3.9 billion to decarbonise buildings.
  • National Infrastructure Strategy - £24 billion of strategic roads investment, £5.7 billion for eight "London style" transport settlements; £2.6 billion for a long-term pipeline of over 50 local road upgrades; and over £35 billion of rail investment. Also, £4.2 billion for 40 new hospitals and 70 hospital upgrades, and £3.8 billion to the prison-building programme.
  • "turn Generation Rent into Generation Buy" - £24 billion multi-year settlement for housing, including up to 180,000 affordable homes with £11.5 billion in the Affordable Homes Programme (65% outside London), and bringing 1,500 hectares of brownfield land into use. £5 billion will also be made available to remove unsafe cladding from the highest-risk buildings, supported by the residential property developer tax, which applies from April 2022. 
  • "high-wage, high-skilled, high-productivity economy" – apprenticeship funding will increase to £2.7 billion by 2024-2025.

A copy of the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 can be found here.

Fund launched to accelerate timber construction ahead of COP26

The organisation, Built by Nature, aims to fund ideas that will scale up timber buildings solutions and transform timber buildings; reducing embodied carbon; storing carbon and sequestering carbon through forest stewardship and regeneration. 

The organisation will support developers designers, investors, asset owners and insurers, alongside policymakers and leaders to decarbonise the built environment.  Grants will be offered between £42,000 - £210,000 (€50,000-€250,000).

Funded projects could include designing new business models and collecting business case data, innovations and frameworks to increase the climate impact of timber buildings, regulatory innovations, or feasibility tests for large city-scale projects that start to shift the norm for the sector.

Further information can be found here.

Unspoken Giants: International Financial Institutions - New Podcast Series

In a world first, RPC's Unspoken Giants series brings together senior leaders from nine of the largest Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to discuss their fight against the cancer of corruption in the projects they fund and how this may impact on businesses and individuals involved.  It provides a unique insight into how each MDB and IFI operates, the projects they fund and the powers they have to investigate and sanction.  This series will be of interest to senior management, legal and compliance teams who want to better understand MDB and IFI funding and how to navigate the complex web of potential pitfalls to ensure the best outcome. 

To access the full podcast series, please click here. If you would like to discuss any of the matters raised, please contact unspokengiants@rpc.co.uk

Supreme Court widens interpretation of tort jurisdiction - FS Cairo (Nile Plaza) LLC v Brownlie [2021] UKSC 45

FS Cairo (Nile Plaza) LLC v Brownlie considered a motor accident that occurred while the Claimant was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo.  The Claimant was injured on an excursion offered by the hotel, in which the service provider was not named expressly although the brochure contained the logo of the Four Seasons hotel chain.  The Claimant brought claims against the Four Seasons holding company in the English courts, contending that the Four Seasons was directly and vicariously liable for the fault of the driver.

The Supreme Court held that claims for consequential losses suffered in England engaged the tort jurisdiction gateway in paragraph 3.1(9) of PD 6B.  It also clarified the rule that, where foreign law applies, the court will apply English law in the absence of satisfactory evidence of foreign law.

A copy of the judgement can be found here.

Changes to Disclosure Pilot

On 26 October 2021 the 136th Practice Direction (PD) Update was published, with changes being implemented from 1 November 2021.  The key points of interest are as follows:

  1. There will be a new simplified regime for "Less Complex Claims" (Appendix 5 to PD 51U).
  2. There is recognition of the likely need for a "bespoke" approach to disclosure for multi-party claims.
  3. Amendments aimed at making the process of agreeing Lists of Issues simpler and less contentious, and discouraging "excess", are being implemented.
  4. There is a revised Disclosure Certificate (Appendix 4 to PD 51U).

Please find a link to the 136th Practice Direction (PD) Update here.

With thanks to Georgina Taylor, Tom Westford and Charlie Underwood