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Fire Safety Claims

Since the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in 2017, building and fire safety in residential buildings is an important focus for freeholders, leaseholders and the wider construction industry.

In response to Grenfell, the government commissioned a series of tests to understand how ACM cladding materials combined with different types of insulation behave in a fire. These results have informed the Governments and the wider industry response and has led to continuing investigations into fire reactivity of other types of external wall systems.

Although the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is still ongoing, the Hackitt Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety also identified serious systemic issues and it’s clear that there are many buildings in the UK which have fire safety and/or external wall system issues and in some cases wholesale breaches of building regulations.

How we can help

We have a knowledgeable and expert team who help clients with properties and historic construction projects which are facing fire safety claims connected to building, fire safety and other external wall construction related issues.

Practical advice

The message is clear that building and fire safety can no longer be seen as a tick-box exercise and the spirit of the reforms should flow through into day-to-day business. We can help you lay the foundations for best practice now, by making sure you are familiar with your obligations at each stage of a building’s lifecycle. We’ll help you consider the resources, procedures, policies and processes you’ll need, as well as any training that might be necessary.

The extended time periods for bringing the various redress claims mean that for developers in particular, it’s worth making sure you’re prepared. You can do this by reviewing your potential exposure to these types of claims, making sure you retain any potentially relevant documents, as well as investigating your ability to claim against any third parties. We also suggest updating third party contractual arrangements and protections and professional indemnity cover.  Amendment of your document retention and other relevant policies and process is also advised to ensure these reflect the extended time period for bringing claims.

The Building Safety Act 2022

On 5 July 2021 the government introduced the Building Safety Bill to Parliament. Heralded as the next step in the government’s proposals for fundamental building safety reform, the Bill became law – the Building Safety Act 2022 – on 28 April 2022.

This is a substantial Act with some complex elements – we’ve outlined some of the key points below and more information can also be found in these government factsheets.

The changes introduced by the Act will be phased in over 12-18 months and it seems likely that a fair amount of the detail will be set out in secondary legislation. The government’s suggested timeline can be found here and you can keep an eye out for our upcoming briefings on different aspects of the new law. In the meantime, if you have any queries about how it may affect you, please get in touch with one of the team and we’ll be happy to help.

Key elements  of the Building Safety Act include:

  • a new dutyholder regime across the lifecycle of ‘higher-risk buildings’ and a new gateway regime from planning to occupation, including a levy on developers when they apply for building control approval
  • a ‘golden thread’ of documents and information to be provided to the building owner once construction is complete
  • powers to compel companies to remediate the buildings for which they are responsible, including the ability to block non-compliant companies from building again in England
  • new protections for leaseholders, limiting in law the total amount any leaseholder will pay towards remediation in their lifetime
  • a requirement that developers must provide new build home warranties to purchasers of new homes
  • extending the limitation period for claims brought under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA) from 6 to 30 years (for work already completed) and from 6 to 15 years (for work completed in the future)
  • for future work, expanding the DPA to include refurbishment and other work to an existing dwelling
  • bringing section 38 of the Building Act 1984 into force, allowing claims for compensation to be brought for physical damage (injury or damage to property) caused by a breach of building regulations and extending the limitation period to 15 years (applies to work done after the section comes into force)
  • building Liability Orders allowing the courts to extend specific liabilities for one company to any other associated companies
  • a new cause of action that will enable claims to be brought against construction product manufacturers and sellers where a product has been mis-sold, is found to be inherently defective or if there has been a breach of existing construction product regulations (a 30-year retrospective limitation period will apply to cladding products; a 15-year prospective period to all products
  • a building safety regulator established within the Health and Safety Executive, with toughened existing and new powers.

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Chambers & Partners

Paul
Hargreaves

Partner

Construction & Engineering

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Paul's contact details

+44 (0)113 399 1876

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Martin
Scott

Partner

Construction & Engineering

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Martin's contact details

+44 (0)113 283 2524

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Meet the team
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