The Week That Was - 30 July 2021

Published on 30 July 2021

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

Electric road trial for HGV charging

Costain is set to receive government funding for a feasibility study into “electric roads” for battery-powered heavy goods vehicles.  The funding is part of a £20million drive by the Government to encourage HGV operators to convert to battery-electric vehicles.

Electric Road Systems supply battery-electric trucks with electricity from overhead catenaries like those on the rail network, enabling HGVs to charge dynamically as they drive.  Costain, who describe their purpose as being ' to improve people’s lives by delivering integrated leading edge smart infrastructure solutions to meet national needs across the UK’s energy, water, transportation and defence markets', will consider trials of an ‘Electric Road System’ on a 20-kilometre stretch of road near Scunthorpe.

Other firms involved in the programme include Leyland Trucks and Siemens.  William Wilson, CEO of Siemens Mobility Ltd, said “Investing in proven technologies like e-highways can help us go further and faster to decarbonise the UK’s transport network, and support jobs and growth to level up the country….By building on successful trials from other countries like Germany, our ERS consortium M180 trial will help the UK move a step closer to replacing more polluting trucks with clean, efficient electric HGVs.”

To read further, please click here.

'Pingdemic' continuing to cause disruption

Of over 5000 kitchen, bedroom and bathroom installers, 47% have had to cancel jobs due to customers or installers being ‘pinged’ by the NHS COVID-19 app, a survey has revealed.  Based on the average cost of these type of jobs, this could mean that millions of pounds have been lost to the incomes of installers – many of whom are likely to be either self-employed sole traders, or small and mid-size enterprise workers.

Damian Walters, CEO of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation, said “Installers are taking a hit on their incomes that’s as unnecessary as it is unfair.  They’ve spent the last year working to incredibly safe procedures, meaning that they could continue serving  customers throughout the pandemic. For at least half of them to now have to stop working – and earning – as the rest of the country recovers just seems utterly ridiculous.”

For more information, please click here.

Chubb introduces new insurance solution for off-shore wind farms

Chubb is launching a new insurance policy for offshore wind farms, designed to support green energy providers from inception of the project to energy production, storage, and distribution.

The new Chubb Offshore Wind Farm policy offers construction all-risks, delay in start-up and operation all risks cover, as well as business interruption, third-party liability, and terrorism coverage.  

The new policy was developed by Chubb Global Markets’ energy team, which comprises the company’s London Market wholesale and specialty business.  “This new product line will help us provide underwriting solutions for clients evolving towards more green technology, in addition to those who may have been operating in this space for some time,” said Chubb Global Markets head of upstream energy and offshore renewables, Melanie Markwick-Day.  

“In the context of decarbonisation, a supportive regulatory framework, low interest rates and lenders more confident with associated risks, we will be providing valued support to green energy producers by offering certainty of cover from when they start the project planning phase to when their offshore wind farms become fully operational and beyond,” added Chubb Global Markets head of energy. Andrew Brown.

To read further, please click here.

Disclosure Pilot Scheme

In the Technology and Construction Court, giving judgment on disclosure issues, HHJ Keyser QC rejected ten issues characterised as Issues for Disclosure in an exemplary damages claim.  He held that the Issues for Disclosure on that claim would be limited to two agreed issues, and ordered Model D Extended Disclosure.

The judgment highlights guidance on Issues for Disclosure; notably, in McParland & Partners Ltd v Whitehead [2020] EWHC 298 (Ch).  The judge noted that PD 51U.7.3 makes it clear that the fact that an issue is a matter of dispute in the statements of case does not suffice to make it a proper Issue for Disclosure; McParland establishes this to be the case (even for a central issue).  The parties must identify undisclosed documentation likely to be available and assess whether it is likely to be relevant and important for the fair resolution of the claim.  The judge considered that an issue in dispute would be a "key issue" if it needed to be determined for a fair resolution of the proceedings.

The judge then considered whether it is a "necessary, albeit not a sufficient, condition of being an Issue for Disclosure that an issue is a pleaded issue", referring to Revenue and Customs Commissioners v IGE USA Investments Ltd and others [2020] EWHC 1716 (Ch) and Lonestar Communications Corporation LLC v Kaye [2020] EWHC 1890 (Comm).  The judge in IGE concluded that it was not necessary for Issues for Disclosure to be pleaded issues, declining to follow Lonestar which concluded that Issues for Disclosure must be issues crystallised in statements of case.

Judge Keyser held that, for this case management conference (CMC) (and most CMCs considering Extended Disclosure), the Lonestar approach was correct.  Determining the disclosure necessary for a fair determination of the issues at trial must be directed to the issues in dispute on the statements of case.  The Issues for Disclosure must appear on the statements of case (although not all such issues will be Issues for Disclosure).

To read the judgement, please click here.

CLC call for fluctuating price contracts

In an open letter to the Construction Industry, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has warned that the recent volatility in the availability and pricing of materials and labour will likely remain for a while to come.  The CLC highlighted the subsequent impact on the timeframes and delivery costs of many projects.

The CLC strongly urges those responsible for developing, agreeing and managing contracts to consider adopting their standard provisions for managing volatility in their contracts.  The most commonly used method of allowing for inflation in contracts is the use of indices, to which the BCIS paper Inflation Adjustment Clauses provides guidance on.

To read further, please click here.

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