The Week That Was - 3 March 2023

Published on 03 March 2023

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

Court of Appeal to hear appeals on limitation issues under Building Safety Act 2022 - URS Corp Ltd v BDW Trading Ltd

Lord Justice Coulson has considered the new, extended limitation period under the Building Safety Act 2022 (the BSA).

The developer had discovered defects in 2019 and had issued proceedings against its engineer in tort.  There was a trial of preliminary issues, which was decided in favour of the developer.  In January 2022, Lord Justice Coulson granted the engineers permission to appeal that decision.

After permission had been granted, but before the appeal was heard, the BSA came into force.  S.135 of the BSA provided certain new limitation periods, and consequently the developer sought to amend its pleading to pursue a claim against the engineer under the Defective Premises Act 1972, a claim which had not previously been made.  The amendments were allowed, but the engineer appealed.  

At an interlocutory hearing, Lord Justice Coulson granted permission to the engineers to appeal that decision and he also determined that both appeals should be heard together since they were closely intertwined.

A link to the judgment can be found here.
The importance of ESG

Over recent years it has become an increasingly high priority for businesses to assess their contributions through an Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) lens.  The "social" aspect is no longer a "nice to have" for the private sector.  The Government is taking seriously its commitment to social value through tender processes, and the policy imperatives around improving environmental, economic and social wellbeing, as well as tackling climate change, using measures such as its Construction Playbook guidance.

Social value is therefore becoming a key contributor to commercial success.  Indeed, research commissioned by WSP showed that, of 4,000 students aged 16-23 questioned on the factors they are prioritising in their future careers and from employers, two-thirds perceives an organisation’s high prioritisation of social value impact as either "very important" or "somewhat important".  It is likely that, where businesses don’t actively promote and deliver social value through their projects, they are likely to lose work.

This will be increasingly important for businesses across the construction sector to consider in the coming years. For firms of architects, surveyors and engineers ensuring a strong ESG commitment will help attract the next generation of employees. Contractors should also be minded to have their ESG approach in place as major developers and the Government will be increasingly taking businesses' ESG policies into account when reviewing tenders for projects.

To see more, please click here.
Shortlist for RIBA South Awards announced

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released the shortlist of projects which are in the running for the 2023 RIBA South awards.  The awards celebrate innovative, unique and beautiful architectural design.  The nominations range from residential properties and fitness spaces to a chapel extension and theatre.  There are several categories to be considered, including the RIBA Sustainability Award. The winners of the regional awards will then be considered for the RIBA National Award, which is highly coveted and recognises architectural excellence.

The RIBA South Jury Chair, Stuart Eatock, said: "Be it sensitive conservation or modern intervention, all the projects demonstrate skill, passion and determination, and have resulted in a range of beautiful new buildings and spaces that are truly unique to their environment.

To see more, please click here.
Budget blown by £13m on delayed Silvertown Tunnel

The Transport for London (TfL) project to ease congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and connect south London with Silvertown's Tidal Basin Roundabout is currently running at £186m, which is £13m over the original budget of £173m.  Work on the tunnel began in August 2022 with good progress having been made so far, despite TfL pushing back the projected opening date from April 2025 to June 2025.  TfL has stated that the increase in costs is due to the inflation related challenges affecting the construction industry.

To see more, please click here.
Government to test new fast-track planning process for major projects

The Government has announced plans for a new fast-track scheme for the planning process for major infrastructure projects like offshore wind farms, waste water management facilities and new transport links.  It hopes that the new scheme will combat the issues projects have faced in recent years with the slow planning process and the subsequent increase in legal challenges. 

The Government will begin identifying suitable projects for the fast-track process from this Spring and hopes to announce the pilot projects in September.  The plan will give new powers to the Secretary of State to decide whether to impose shorter deadlines to examine projects and for developers to provide more detail at the pre-planning stage.

To see more, please click here.

Authors for this week's edition: Liz Johnson and Lauren Butler

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. 

Stay connected and subscribe to our latest insights and views 

Subscribe Here