Improving Society

Safeguarding families through fire-door replacement

Defective fire door replacement

Anthony Collins Solicitors are advising six social housing providers in relation to defective glass-reinforced (GRP) fire doors, installed by a number of contractors. Different circumstances require different strategies, and in this case study we explain how we have advised two social housing providers in relation to this issue.

Work now, argue later

One provider was initially looking for a new contractor to undertake a comprehensive door replacement programme for nearly 5,000 properties, and then seek recovery of the costs of doing so from the contractor responsible.

This meant they would need to find millions of pounds to fund the door replacement programme and spend time engaging new contractors, both of which would delay getting appropriate fire safety arrangement in place for residents.

Instead, we advised the provider to negotiate with their original contractor to deliver a door replacement programme free of charge, with liability (and who bears the cost of the door replacement programme) to be determined once the work was delivered (a “work-now-argue-later” arrangement).

We advised on drafting and negotiating the terms of the “work-now-argue-later” arrangement and advising on the wider litigation strategy. This included the implementation of a door-testing programme as well as positioning the provider for dispute over liability at the end of the door replacement works. This innovative approach to an industry-wide issue has resulted in the door replacement programme commencing sooner than it would have otherwise done, and at no initial cost to the client.

Safeguarding families

The second provider had a different issue because their doors were installed under contracts with two separate contractors. One of the contractors denied liability for the selection of the doors, while the other contractor denied that the doors were defective.

We advised the provider to seek an adjudicator’s decision determining the contractual liability of the first contractor for selection and supply of the doors. The adjudication was successful, with the adjudicator deciding that the contractor was responsible for the selection and supply of over 4,200 doors. This positioned the client to negotiate the terms of a door replacement programme, and to seek recovery of the costs of a door replacement programme in the event that negotiations were unsuccessful.

On the second contract, we advised the client on a door testing programme to establish whether the doors were defective, and negotiations with the contractor responsible. This strategy allows the client to commence adjudications on targeted issues if necessary, and to drive forward the replacement of a further 4,000 defective fire doors.

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