Open All Hours – Greater flexibility with site opening hours for UK construction

By Vijay Bange

Throughout the lockdown in the UK, the construction industry has been allowed to remain open for business providing that compliance with the Public Health England measures is maintained. However, most national house builders at least had taken a decision to close sites. Boris Johnson on Sunday 10th May, in his long awaited press briefing on the potential relaxation of social distancing road map, made clear that those in construction and manufacturing should go back to work, if they could.

The distancing restrictions will require those at sites to plan their works to ensure compliance with the still in force social distancing measures, and to also consider that other safety requirements also need to be put in place. Adherence to safety at work guidance remains paramount. Sites will be a different place to how they were before. The net effect will be that works may take longer, and potentially there will be risks of delays to delivery of projects. Contractors will need to do what they can to mitigate this risk. Continue reading “Open All Hours – Greater flexibility with site opening hours for UK construction”

UK Construction & Engineering: Lean Thinking Re-Visited

By Vijay Bange

Lean Isn’t for Lockdown, It’s for Life” was a thought provoking treatise by my fellow partner at Duane Morris, Alexander Geisler (London office co-head, author, journalist and creator of the Lean Law Suite of lean practice methods). He discussed how our “New Norm” in the COVID-19 era is forcing industries to adopt Lean Thinking principles to work efficiently and effectively. This paper seeks to consider the extent to which these concepts are applicable to the UK construction & engineering industry.

Lean Thinking as a concept has its roots in Toyota’s production system. One of the primary tenets of this concept is to aim to perfect process, as continuous improvements address root causes of quality issues, and the elimination of waste. Continue reading “UK Construction & Engineering: Lean Thinking Re-Visited”

Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork- Part 2

By Steve Nichol and Matthew Friedlander 

Last week we discussed, in light of the encouragement from Robert Jenrick MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) for the construction industry to remobilise, the government’s apparent reluctance to provide confidence and clarity for the construction industry in respect of the safe operation of sites.

In the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 10 May 2020, he re-stated that encouragement for the construction industry, where possible, to return to work. Continue reading “Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork- Part 2”

COVID-19: Review of the UK Government’s Guidance on Responsible Contractual Behaviour

By Steve Nichol

On 7 May 2020 the UK Government published its “Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the COVID-19 emergency”.  Here are some of the key points arising and our analysis of the same.

It is not mandatory. The Guidance repeatedly stresses that the Government is merely strongly encouraging compliance with the Guidance, rather than suggesting that it is or should be mandatory.  However, as with previous policy announcements by the UK Government, it seems likely that public and local authorities, and indeed potentially companies such as Network Rail who are exercising delegated governmental authority, will be compelled to give greater regard and attention to the Guidance than the private sector. Continue reading “COVID-19: Review of the UK Government’s Guidance on Responsible Contractual Behaviour”

Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork

By Steve Nichol and Matthew Friedlander

In yesterday’s edition of the Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Robert Jenrick MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) relayed tales of how some local authorities have been able to continue essential fire safety work in the COVID-19 era in order to address defective and dangerous cladding in their areas.  He then went on to say:

I would urge any building owner or contractor…as soon as practicable, where it’s safe, to begin work once again.

If Mr Jenrick envisioned this statement as a call to arms for the industry to remobilise in a flurry of activity, it is likely that he will be disappointed. Continue reading “Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork”

Adjudication during the COVID-19 lockdown – breach of natural justice?

By Vijay Bange and Tanya Chadha

In the UK, adjudication remains one of the quickest and most cost effective methods of resolving construction disputes.  As most people adjust to the “new normal” of working from home, an away from the usual office environment, adjudication may not be at the top of everyone’s agenda.  That is somewhat ironic given that the current COVID-19 situation is fast becoming a potential breeding ground for construction disputes.  Projects are in delay, labour and materials supply may be an issue and cashflow may become and inevitable effect of the lockdown.

The courts have shown a resolve to carry on with court business where there are live proceedings. There was however some uncertainty as to what approach the TCC would take in relation to adjudications during the period of lockdown, particularly given the fast and furious nature of the process. Would breach of natural justice arguments hold strong in adjudications pursued during this restrictive period of lockdown?  What would be the position where some relevant participants are self-isolating?  Can the adjudication process be conducted fairly, and with proper regard to the rules of natural justice? Continue reading “Adjudication during the COVID-19 lockdown – breach of natural justice?”

Post-lockdown and the new world order: Construction & Engineering UK

By Vijay Bange and Tanya Chadha

Social distancing measures and lockdowns have been replicated across the globe and have brought world economies to all time lows. Understandably, there is now a degree of anxiety to getting back to work. The longer the lockdown goes on for, the harder the bounce back may be. Unsurprisingly murmurings of getting the country back to work are beginning to surface.  Some manufacturers and building firms that shut down are now slowly preparing to return to work from a state of hibernation.

Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have set out plans to re-open their factories early next month with strict safety measures in place. Taylor Wimpey, like some other national house builders, is planning to resume work on multiple sites. HS2 is also now resuming works on Phase one, opening 75% of its sites, with a notice to commence being approved by the government. These companies have spent time planning how they can re-start, whilst ensuring adherence with the government’s social distancing guidelines. Continue reading “Post-lockdown and the new world order: Construction & Engineering UK”

Expert witnesses owe a fiduciary duty of loyalty to clients

By Vijay Bange

A Company v XYZ [2020] EWHC 809 (TCC)

Overview

  • The expert witness owed a fiduciary duty of loyalty, arising out of an engagement to provide expert witness services, advice and support in connection with an arbitration.
  • The court allowed the continuation of an existing interim injunction refraining the defendant consultancy expert practice from providing expert services to another party in the arbitration.

Continue reading “Expert witnesses owe a fiduciary duty of loyalty to clients”

Exit Strategies: Construction & Engineering UK

By Vijay Bange and Tanya Chadha

It was announced on Sunday 5 April that Keir Starmer was selected as leader of the Labour Party. Whilst the current Covid-19 outbreak has no basis for political jostling, he raised a very important question, namely, what is the government’s “Exit Strategy” to eventually get us back to a sense of normality.

The point raised by Keir Starmer is of wider economic relevance. Save for key workers, most other business sector activities have come to a halt. This is largely (but not exclusively) the case for construction and engineering projects. Continue reading “Exit Strategies: Construction & Engineering UK”

Challenging Times: Construction and Engineering in the UK

By Vijay Bange and Tanya Chadha

The COVID -19 pandemic has already had a massive effect on global economies. Its impact has been unprecedented and there is a degree of uncertainty on almost every facet of daily life.

This article seeks to touch upon issues that may affect those in the UK construction industry specifically, but certain elements will no doubt equally apply across other sectors. Continue reading “Challenging Times: Construction and Engineering in the UK”