Legal update: joint event with Society for Construction Law
25th September 2019
On Wednesday 18th September we held our first joint event with Society for Construction Law (SCL). Siân Mirchandani QC (4 NewSquare Chambers) presented to over 50 attendees at The Queen’s Hotel, Cheltenham on the subject of design liability. Noting that CEGlos members represent a true cross-section of our industry, Siân’s talk was addressed to both contractors and construction professionals and had everyone hooked.
As usual, before the formal part of the event got underway, our members and guests enjoyed an opportunity to network. We were pleased to welcome re-joining and new members, and Committee Members had a lot of interest from SCL members in joining our Club.
To celebrate this joint event, Sean Gibbs (Hanscomb Intercontinental) who is both an SCL co-ordinator and a CEGlos Committee Member, opened proceedings by welcoming everyone and introducing Ms Mirchandani QC who had kindly travelled up from London to speak to us. CEGlos Chair, Kevin Harris (Bamboo Technology) echoed Sean’s welcome and took the opportunity to welcome new Club members and highlight our busy autumn events schedule.
During her talk, Ms Mirchandani QC, a barrister with over 20 years’ experience in construction disputes including court proceedings, arbitrations and adjudications, talked about different legal cases and how they apply to our every day working lives. Having reminded listeners that factual context is always key, she then explained the different duties of care in respect of design that are owed by architects as opposed to design and build contractors. Siân brought her talk to life with examples of case law with subjects as diverse as the indoor/outdoor dining experience at a shopping centre in Finchley, a collapsed ceiling in a Liverpool museum, a wind farm and a residential job during which the client fell out so badly with the architect that he said that “”when this is finished (the building) I am not going to rest until I have taken you out and I have got the money to be able to do it” (the client lost the court case).
Continuing to take care to ensure that all attendees found the talk relevant, Siân also broke down common amendments to the JCT Design & Build contract as well as analysing the RIBA, ACE and NEC4 forms of professional appointment. Of particular interest to listeners was the potential “liability gap” between design and build contractors and their sub-consultant design team, many of whom are initially appointed on terms negotiated by the client and then novated across.
Having considered the different design duties as set out in contract, attendees were reminded of their concurrent duty in Court and there was a discussion on liability periods under contracts. Interaction with the audience showed that being on the hook for 6 or 12 years remains a hot topic as businesses continue to monitor and manage risk. Finally, Ms Mirchandani QC touched upon statutory duties looking at both the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (the CDM Regulations).
The presentation had the audience hooked from start to finish and clearly provided much food for thought with many attendees leaving with a renewed enthusiasm for the daunting task of reviewing contracts prior to signing them.
CEGlos were delighted to partner with SCL for this event and Ms Mirchandani QC has kindly offered to make this an annual event.