Welcome to the September 2021 issue of our Construct newsletter.

The landscape of the construction industry continues to change against the background of the pandemic. It has been reported that self-isolation rules and workers being “pinged” by the NHS’ mobile phone app have exacerbated the industry’s labour shortage in recent weeks.

Another shortage – this time of materials – also continues to trouble construction. This is due to a combination of, among other things, high output and strained supply chains. Parties facing labour or material issues should keep detailed records, check their contract and seek to enter early dialogue with the other party to minimise the impact on projects.

In response to the much-discussed “Freedom Day” of 19 July, the Construction Leadership Council (“CLC”) has issued guidance on face coverings in construction. The guidance follows the Government’s advice, that face coverings are “expected and recommended”. The CLC’s guidance is not binding on parties but may inform on site risk assessments and regulatory bodies such as the HSE.

The Building Safety Bill (“BSB”) was introduced to parliament on 5 July 2021. Key to the BSB is proposed changes to the Defective Premises Act, which will be amended to catch alteration and refurbishment work and permit claims to be made up to 15 years after the work in question. Both of these measures are designed to aid claims against contractors and developers who have installed cladding of the type used on Grenfell Tower. However, critics of the BSB say that it does little to alleviate the worries of residents in high-rise blocks.

This edition of Construct features a wide range of articles on pertinent issues. Firstly, Liam Hendry writes about milestone payments on construction contracts and key things to look out for when using, or planning to use, milestone payments.

We also have an article discussing the judgment in Timberbrook Ltd v Grant Leisure Group Ltd [2021] EWHC 1905 (TCC). That case – the facts of which include the design and build of an orang-utan enclosure and a project manager who went on to become a priest – includes some key lessons for parties looking to be paid for variations on construction contracts.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Construct. If you are affected by or would like to discuss any of the issues contained in this newsletter, please contact the writer, whose contact details will be on the article.

Peter Blake
Liam Hendry
Legal Assistant