The Week That Was - 20 May 2022

Published on 20 May 2022

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

Building Safety Act 2022 is published

The Building Safety Act 2022 (the BSA) was finally published on Friday 13 May 2022 after having received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. The other important Post-Grenfell legislation, the Fire Safety Act 2021, also came into force in England on 16 May 2022.

The BSA introduces a new building safety regulator, a new building control system, and it limits the amount that leaseholders can be charged for fire safety defects.  It also makes it easier for leaseholders to pursue builders, developers and the manufacturers of construction products for damages for fire safety defects in buildings which are at least 11 metres in height.

In summary, other changes include:

  1. An extended time limit for claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 6 years to 15 years for new buildings, and 30 years for existing buildings.
  2. An extended time limit for claims under section 38 of the Building Act 1984 (which the Government is also bringing into force) to 15 years.  Section 38, when it comes into force, will make breaches of building regulations which cause damage actionable.
  3. Power for the High Court to make 'building liability orders' which allow them to extend liability for one company to any other associated company and make them jointly and severally liable if the High Court considers it just and equitable.
  4. Creation of a new construction product cause of action for damages if construction product manufacturers breach the new construction product regulations and this breach causes a building to become unfit for habitation.  This will be subject to a 30 year time limit retrospectively and a 15 year time limit prospectively.

You can view the full Act here.

Balfour Beatty and Atkins JV's £250m M25 upgrade gets go ahead

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has approved a scheme to upgrade the M25/A3 interchange near Woking in Surrey after a delay to consider the environmental impacts.  The interchange is one of the busiest in the UK with 300,000 journeys made through it every day.

Four new slip lanes will be built to “enable all left turning traffic to pass through the junction unimpeded by traffic signals”.  The project also involves altering and upgrading the existing roundabout at junction 10 of the M25, and elongating and widening sections of the A3 and A245.

You can find more information here or here.

Warning over use of timber products from the Far East

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) have issued a warning regarding the import and use of birch plywood from the Far East.

Russia is the biggest exporter of the timber but importation of Russian products has been banned in the UK following its invasion of Ukraine.  Production of birch plywood is extremely limited elsewhere which means that supply is likely to diminish over the coming months.  The CLC has warned that the import of birch plywood which is offered from the Far East will also be illegal due to their continued use of Russian materials.

Thankfully, the supply of most of the other wood products commonly used in construction projects remains good and it is hoped that the construction industry will be able to find suitable alternatives to birch plywood.

You can view the CLC's latest construction product availability statement here.

The new Procurement Bill 2022/23

Last week the Government introduced the Procurement Bill 2022/23 to Parliament.  The bill sets out the Government's new procurement regime following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The main procurement objectives set out in the bill include:

  1. Delivering value for money;
  2. Maximising public benefit;
  3. Sharing information for the purpose of allowing suppliers and others to understand the authority's procurement policies and decisions; and
  4. Acting, and being seen to act, with integrity.

To that end, transparency is an underlying theme throughout the bill, to ensure that public spending can be properly scrutinised.  The bill aims to simplify public procurement systems and allow more new entrants to compete for public contracts.  It also introduces new rules to take into account bidders' previous performance and exclude those who have behaved unacceptably in the past.

Given the significant amendments made to the Building Safety Bill before it was enacted, it will be interesting to see how the Procurement Bill evolves over the coming months.

The bill can be viewed in its current form here.

£120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund announced

The Government has opened a £120m fund for new nuclear projects.  The fund aims to support existing nuclear energy projects in the UK and to encourage new entrants to the market.  Nuclear construction projects will have to compete for a limited number of government grants, with a view to then attracting private investment.

The new fund follows the Government's Energy Security Strategy announcement last month where they set out plans to approve 8 new nuclear reactors by 2030.

You can read more and register your interest here.

Thanks to Jonathan Carrington, Ella Crawley-Till and Ella Ennos-Dann 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

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