15 September, 2021
On Monday 5 July 2021, information relating to the Building Safety Bill was published including various supporting and explanatory documents and some draft regulations. The Bill, once passed, will introduce new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety in England and Wales and for construction products throughout the UK. The Bill was introduced into parliament on 30 June 2021 and due to its size and complexity, parliament does not expect the passage to take less than 9 months. The government does intend to bring forward a number of changes within the first 12 months of Royal Assent with the majority to follow within 12 to 18 months - this is in accordance with the timeline and transition plan published alongside the Bill.
A limitation period is the period of time within which a party to a contract must bring a claim. Within construction contracts, this most commonly relates to defects claims brought against contractors. Currently, the Limitation Act 1980 allows a period of 6 years for you to bring a claim for a breach of a simple contract and 12 years if the contract is executed as a formal deed.
The Bill will increase the time limit to bring claims due to construction defects against developers under the Defective Premises Act 1972 and breaches of the Building Regulations during construction from 6 years to 15 years. This new legislation will give homeowners much longer to claim losses associated with poor workmanship or defective materials such as dangerous cladding in light of the Grenfell tragedy. This will create a clear pathway for how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained. This will also apply retrospectively, meaning that properties built up to 15 years prior to this legislative change coming into effect will be able to bring a claim.
The government described the reforms as "the biggest changes to building safety regulation in a generation" and said that the bill "will set out a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained".
For developers, you need to be preparing for this legislation now as the framework proposed is going to require fundamental changes to how you design, construct and manage construction projects. The Bill will significantly increase the responsibilities of the designated "Responsible Person" in multi-occupancy buildings. A new Building Safety Regulator will be created, which will have serious consequences for non-compliance, as they will oversee a new more stringent regime for higher risk buildings and drive improvements in building safety in all buildings. This and many more changes need to be prepared for within your contracts to ensure compliance with the new legislation coming into place.
We strongly advise that you use this as an opportunity to review your contracts, widening protection in light of this forthcoming Bill and to ensure that you're aware of your respective position under existing contractual arrangements.
For more information contact John Pickervance in our Commercial department via email or phone on 0333 207 1134. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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