What the Building Safety Act 2022 means for Disputes

Sheroze Nadeem
Sheroze Nadeem

Published: September 21st, 2022

6 min

In light of the tragic fire at Grenfell Towers in 2017, the regulation within the UK's construction industry and particularly the use of cladding came under scrutiny and review. The government has introduced several measures including, and most recently, the Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act). As the Act has only recently been introduced it is yet to be tested if this was what was required within the construction industry.

From the outset, it is worth noting that a number of the Act's provisions will not come into effect for another 12 to 18 months, as secondary legislation is drawn, this brief article aims to touch upon this to allow you an opportunity to get ahead where necessary.

It is clear from the Act that the Government has attempted to distribute accountability amongst all those involved in the design and build of higher-risk buildings. Under the Act, parties including, but not limited to, architects, builders, manufacturers, and suppliers will now all have increased liability. Indeed, the Act introduces new causes of action which enable claims to be brought against construction product manufacturers and sellers. The limitation period for bringing such claims has now been extended up to 15 years from which date the right accrued. Higher-risk buildings owners will also welcome the extension to the limitation period for defective cladding products, with the period being 15 years prospectively and 30 years retrospectively.

The Act also enables those with an interest, limited by the Act's definition of an "interested person", to make an application for a Contribution Order. In circumstances where it deems it just and equitable to do so, the first-tier tribunal can order a specified body to contribute towards costs incurred or those to be incurred in remedying relevant defects. Whilst not concerning the Act directly, as recent as July 2022, we have already seen the court demonstrate that it is prepared to find in favour of a building owner seeking approximately £8,000,000 associated with the costs of investigating, removing, and replacing defective cladding installed back in 2005.

Another addition under the Act is the introduction of several new duty holder roles including an 'accountable person'. An accountable person will hold a set of statutory obligations relating to the fire and structural risks within any higher-risk buildings. The Act is relatively limited in setting out the duties that are placed upon accountable persons and we can expect further guidance in the coming months.

With further provisions expected to be implemented into the Act over the upcoming months, those involved in the design and construction of a higher-risk buildings including manufacturers should keep a close eye on the developments and any possible liabilities that they could face.

Whether you are a higher-risk building owner or are involved in a safety dispute as the design and construction team of a higher-risk building, and you have any questions or concerns, our Construction Litigation team will be able to help.

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