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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Asbestos events will focus on land contamination

Picture of asbestos contamination in the Spodden ValleyA series of one-day events will be taking place around the UK on the issue of asbestos in soil – an issue that is of crucial important to the construction industry and one which gives rise to a growing amount of litigation and even criminal cases.

The events begin at Belfast City Council’s Cecil Ward Building on 24 June with Good practice – Assessment of Asbestos Risk from the Ground, a training day by the Local Authority Contaminated Land Network. It will provide an introduction to asbestos in soil, reviewing the types of asbestos and the toxicology associated with asbestos.

The event is of special interest to local authorities, clients, housebuilders, consultants and contractors.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 10:25


CDM regulations set for reform

Picture of building site for Your Expert Witness storyPlans to revise UK laws on construction safety are likely to be published by the government at the beginning of April with the intention that they come into force in April 2015, according to a health and safety law expert at a leading law firm.

The Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2007, which govern the safety of construction sites, apportion responsibility for safety to individuals on site, have been up for reform for some time, with a consultation widely expected this year. Now Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons has said he expects the plans to be published next month.

“Our understanding is that a 12-week consultation will begin at the start of April and that new guidance on what the laws will mean for industry will be published between then and April 2015, when it is hoped that the regulations will come into force,” said Elson.

According to a report in the firm’s newsletter, the revisions to the 2007 regulations will still ensure that burdens are placed not just on construction contractors, but also on those that hire them, such as the retailers, property developers and infrastructure developers on whose behalf work is carried out.

“Construction is widely defined, so even minor works within a building can be regarded as construction and fall within the regulations. That has always been the case and will not change with the revision,” said Elson. “With these changes the HSE will stress again the importance of the client role in the effective planning of construction works.”

It is believed that the revised regulations will propose doing away with a stand-alone CDM co-ordinator and will instead reassign the responsibility for co-ordination within the team planning and delivering a project. The requirement to co-ordinate construction planning will apply across all projects and not just those that are ‘notifiable’ under the regulations.

“What had originally begun as a process of evaluation and tweaking of the regulations appears to have become a substantial revision that, if adopted, will create challenges and opportunities for 'client' organisations, designers and contractors,” Sean Elson concluded.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 18:27

January sees continued growth reported in construction sector

Picture of a JCB on a building site for Your Expert Witness storyThe UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for January has reported the sharpest rise in construction output since August 2007, with strong output growth recorded in all three sub-categories of construction, housing activity increasing at its sharpest pace for over 10 years and a strong rate of job creation being maintained.

The index, jointly maintained by market research experts Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, indicated that UK construction companies started the year with an acceleration of output growth at their units, boosted by sharp rises in incoming new work. Stronger demand resulted in a marked increase in employment numbers across the construction sector as well as improved confidence about the business outlook for the next 12 months.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the PMI registered 64.6 in January, up from 62.1 in December and above the neutral 50.0 value for the ninth successive month.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 March 2014 09:11


MPs urge DCLG to retain sustainable homes code

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has been urged by a committee of MPs to reconsider plans to axe the Code for Sustainable Homes, describing it as “a policy that has driven up home building standards and helped to create a thriving sustainable building industry in the UK.”

The chair of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee said: “The Secretary of State should think again before demolishing the Code for Sustainable Homes. The policy has been a big success in driving up home building standards, delivering local choice and supporting green exports. Building materials manufacturers in the UK told us that they use the code as a green kitemark when they sell their products abroad.”

The cross-party committee criticised the Department for its decision to remove local authorities’ discretion to set high standards on energy and water saving—using the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH)—in favour of a lowest-common-denominator national standard.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 18:52


Top judge to speak at construction law meeting

Picture of Mr Justice Ramsey for Your Expert Witness storyOne of the country’s leading authorities on construction law will be speaking at an event chaired by a partner at Oxford law firm Blake Lapthorn later this month. The Hon Mr Justice Ramsey will speak at a joint meeting of the Society of Construction Law and the Thames Valley Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

A graduate of Oriel College, Oxford, Mr Justice Ramsey was appointed as a High Court judge in 2005. In 2007 he was appointed for three years as judge in charge of the Technology and Construction Court, the specialist arm of the High Court for dealing with construction disputes.

He will speak about the latest thinking in construction law and how the courts interpret it, under the heading Statutory Difference: Why an Arbitration Act but no Adjudication Act?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 13:21