The European Court has upheld the long-standing principle that parties to a dispute should be able to choose their lawyers without having to go through a tender process (or use a framework).
An unexpected, and deeply concerning, outcome of the Grenfell fire tragedy was the discovery that glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) composite flat entrance doors might not achieve the required 30-minute standard of fire resistance.
A failure of fire doors to achieve the required minimum standard has a significant impact on resident safety and raises doubts as to whether “stay put” policies are appropriate.
By 31 July 2018, it was publicly known that doorsets by at least five manufacturers had failed a test programme commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Since then, social housing providers have been undertaking investigatory steps and raising their concerns with suppliers and contractors, while the sector as a whole has been awaiting the conclusions of the MHCLG test programme.
Two recent events have now emphasised the need for social housing providers to take further steps to address their concerns as to the efficacy of fire doors:
- Publication of the fire door test results by MHCLG on 14 February 2019 (the ‘MHCLG Report’); and
- The sale of the Synseal Group (owner of the Masterdor Limited door manufacturer) to Aperture Trading Limited in a pre-pack administration, on 5 March 2019.
The MHCLG Report will provide social housing providers with little comfort; it identifies “a performance issue with GRP composite 30-minute fire doors across the market”. Regrettably, while the MHCLG Report identifies that doors by nine manufacturers failed the fire tests, the full test data has not been made available. As such, it is difficult to see how much practical benefit social housing providers will gain from the MHCLG Report, and the published information falls short of what would be needed to support a legal claim for the installation or supply of defective doors. It is also unlikely that MHCLG will publish any further guidance, given that their expectation is for the fire door industry to take the lead in offering a solution.
With potential claims for defective doors being industry-wide, and revenue being impacted by a moratorium on sales (agreed by the Association of Composite Door Manufacturers in July 2018), the insolvency of one or more fire door manufacturers has been likely for some time. The pre-pack administration of Synseal underscores this risk and should serve as a reminder to social housing providers that if they wish to seek recovery of any costs for replacing potentially defective doors, they should act promptly.
In our previous ebriefing on this issue, we identified the initial steps for social housing providers to consider if they had concerns over their fire doors. In light of the recent developments described in this article, particularly the lack of information provided by MHCLG it has become all the more imperative that social housing providers:
- Undertake fire tests of a sample of any doors they have concerns about;
- Review their fire risk assessments; and
- Notify any potential claims to contractors and suppliers, to position themselves for recovery of losses before further manufacturer insolvencies arise.
Anthony Collins Solicitors are actively advising a number of social housing providers on Grenfell-related fire-safety issues, including investigation and remediation of fire doors, fire compartmentation and wider fire-safety issues.
If you have concerns about fire safety risks or have any other questions in relation to this ebriefing, please do not hesitate to contact Kieran Binnie.
On 8 July, news broke of the staggering fine of more than £183m the ICO intended to levy against British Airways as a result of a hack that took place in 2018, compromising 500,000 customers' data.
The Government has been refused permission to appeal a decision ruling that transitional arrangements in public sector pension schemes are discriminatory.
The Lifeline Project was a well-regarded charity. Failure to carry out the targets within the contracts led the charity into insolvency and resulted in a personal, 7-year disqualification order.
Many local authorities have assessed that a trading subsidiary or trading structure could be beneficial as part of generating income or the service delivery matrix.
On 23 July, trainees from Anthony Collins Solicitors will host an ‘experience day’, which will involve various activities and presentations, with lawyers and non-lawyers from across the firm.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has launched a new scheme specifically for charities and not-for-profit organisations who want to advise EU citizens on UK settlement.
In the second part of our series on contract management pitfalls, we look at the risks and opportunities presented by payment mechanisms in construction contracts.
The Government has resurrected its plans to cap the termination payments for exiting employees in the public sector.
Under most construction contracts, the contractor takes on the ground conditions risk. However, a recent case has demonstrated that the risk can fall on the employer.
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