International Women’s Day is not just another event in the calendar. Striving for social equality is a daily mission as we work towards building a society of gender equality.
We have received instructions from a number of RPs who have tower blocks that have failed the tests undertaken by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). While these tests are a good start, as David Orr (Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation) has pointed out, they only tell us what we should already know; if the cladding is made of an Aluminium Composite Material, it will fail and should be replaced. However, over the past few days, other experts have come forward and pointed out that the tests themselves are very narrow and do not test the suitability of the entire cladding and fire stopping systems applied to each block. What about the suitability of the insulation sitting behind the cladding panels? How effective is the fire stopping to each floor of the building?
Many contractors who originally fitted the cladding systems are coming forward and asking how they can help. In the hurry to resolve the situation, they are being instructed to remove and replace the cladding panels as quickly as possible. This fails to establish any clear plans for further investigations or what the scope of works should be done to replace any defective materials or systems.
This exceptional situation does, therefore, raise concerns around how remedial works are planned and supervised. In particular, we advise that it would be appropriate to consider retaining a façade engineering consultant to inspect and supervise all works undertaken by appointed contractors. Their role would be to:
- Inspect and record the defects with cladding in situ and, as it is removed, check for any wider defects (including to fire stopping and insulation situated behind the cladding panels);
- Approve the scope of works for all remedial action and approve the cost of works. Such approval will include ensuring full compliance with statutory regulations and any recommendations from the Fire Service, as appropriate; and
- Advise on the cause of the defects and whether there has been any breach of duty on the part of the contractor or consultants who clad the buildings initially that would make it appropriate for them to provide an indemnity for the remedial costs.
To move quickly through the issues is very important, but a considered approach must be adopted. To that end:
- Contracts and consultant appointments should be drafted and entered into to ensure that all usual legal and operational risks are allocated in the most appropriate way. We can assist with this and with advising on exemptions from the EU procurement regime;
- Health and safety arrangements for the proposed works need more intense scrutiny, as there is little or no pre-construction phase time to consider and write the construction phase plan and comply with other duties;
- Although this may be unlikely, it is still necessary to decide whether it is appropriate to re-charge the cost of any improvements to leaseholders through the service charge. If so, consultation will be required about the proposed work. We can advise on this or on the case for obtaining dispensation from the consultation requirements; and
- We can assist with reviewing the findings of the façade consultant to advise on potential recovery of costs for remedial repairs and costs of disruption to residents.
If you would like to find out more information about how we can help you, please contact Andrew Lancaster. To find out more about the work that we do at Anthony Collins Solicitors, please visit our website.
Next in our series of ebriefings on the Government’s Green Paper: Transforming public procurement; looking at the Chapter 4 proposal to change the basis of contract awards.
The Academies Financial Handbook is updated annually by the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency; it contains a number of governance requirements for academy trusts.
Supreme Court publishes key decision for those working in the UK’s gig economy.
The 'Chocolate Snowman Appeal' is an amazing initiative that Anthony Collins Solicitors' (ACS) employees take part in every year.
The Building Safety Bill (the Bill) is said to be the most significant and wide-ranging change to the regulatory environment for higher risk building (HRBs) for over 45 years.
On 4 November 2020, the Restriction of Public Exit Payments Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) came into force; exit payments for the public sector were capped at £95,000.
The case was brought by the Official Receiver who sought disqualification orders under section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (CDDA 1986) against the seven trustees of Kids Company and its CEO. It illustrates well the tension between the role of a fulltime paid CEO of a large charity and the role of its board as voluntary trustees/directors.
At the end of 2020, The Charity Governance Code was updated or 'refreshed' as it is termed on its website.
Anthony Collins Solicitors is today (Thursday 11 February) revealing the scale of its social impact during 2020.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.