The Week That Was - 14 July 2023

Published on 14 July 2023

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

Adjudicator's reckoning of JCT termination time period was correct

The High Court has rejected an application challenging an adjudicator's interpretation of the termination provisions of the JCT Minor Works Building Contract, 2016 Edition (MW 2016).

The adjudicator decided in one adjudication that the employer had served its notice of termination under MW 2016 prematurely, so that it was invalid and amounted to a repudiation of the contract.  The adjudicator then determined the amount payable to the contractor in a second adjudication, relying on his first decision as to repudiatory breach. Following the second adjudication, the employer issued Part 8 proceedings challenging the first decision.

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Mace lands £160m Oxford Science Park deal

Mace has won the next phase of a project at a life sciences park in Oxford.  Opened in 1991 and partly owned by Magdalen College, the Oxford Science Park is home to over 3,000 people and more than 100 businesses.

Plots 23-26 of the Park are to be developed into a 400,000 sq ft laboratory, plus office facilities.  This is to provide more space for existing businesses, but also to make way for new arrivals, with works being completed by 2025.

After planning permission was granted in February, Mace beat Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues to the job.  Mace will be working with Scott Brownrigg who designed the buildings. Others working on the deal include project manager, Bidwells; M&E consultant, Hoare Lea; and QS Turner & Townsend Alinea.
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Construction output falls

The UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index, produced by S&P Global / Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, showed that construction output fell for the first time in five months in June 2023.

The index was dragged down by a significant decrease in residential work, which contracted at the steepest rate since May 2020.  This was attributed to a rise in borrowing costs and a subdued outlook for the housing market.

Civil engineering activity and commercial building both expanded in June.  There was also a marginal decrease in overall input prices across the construction sector for the first time since January 2020 and suppliers' delivery times shortened for the fourth month running.

However, construction firms signalled lower optimism about future workloads reflecting concerns over rising interest rates and a subdued housing market.

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45 construction workers killed on site last year

The latest official figures from the Health and Safety Executive showed that 135 workers were killed in work-related incidents between April 2022 and March 2023 in Great Britain.

Construction was the industry with the highest number of deaths, with 45 workers having being killed in a work-related incident.  This figure was higher than the previous year's 29 fatalities and higher than the five year average of 37 annual deaths.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing had the next highest number of fatalities with 21 and had the highest rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.
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Don't resist the enforcement of an adjudicator's decision if you don't have a defence!

The High Court has rewarded a claimant seeking the enforcement of an adjudicator's award with costs on an indemnity basis because the defendant never had a defence to the claim for enforcement.  The court held that the defendant merely wanted to put off payment of the adjudicator's decision for as long as it could, whilst its Part 8 proceedings for declaratory relief, including that the adjudicator's decision should not be enforced, were in the course of being determined.

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Authors for this week's edition:  Jonathan Carrington, Paul Smylie, and Nikita Austin

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.

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