Standard Form Construction Contracts
New editions and new contracts continue to be published.
The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) has finally published the last batch of contracts to complete its roll-out of the 2016 suite of standard form construction contracts. 2016 editions of its Management Contracting and Construction Management contract families were published at the end of June 2017.
On 22 June 2017, the NEC4 suite of contracts was published. The contracts are said to have been updated and streamlined following "feedback from the industry, considering Government priorities and emerging best practice". The NEC philosophy of collaboration, fair dealing and good project management is said to remain. The NEC4 suite includes two new contracts; the Design, Build and Operate Contract (DBO) and the Alliance Contract (ALC). The ALC was published in consultative form and the final form is expected in early 2018.
New editions of the FIDIC Red, yellow and Siler Books, which were expected this summer, have however been delayed.
In an attempt to reform the practice of cash retentions in the construction industry, a Private Member's Bill, the Construction Industry (Protection of Cash Retentions) Bill, was presented to Parliament on 26 April 2017 to make provision "to safeguard, and for the release of, cash retentions in the construction industry". Despite cross-party agreement about the need to reform cash retentions in the construction industry, the Bill lapsed due to the dissolution of Parliament on 3 May 2017 prior to the general election. The Bill will now need to be re-introduced to Parliament.
Building regulations and fire safety
An independent review of building regulations and fire safety was announced by the Government on the 28 July 2017. With a particular focus on high rise residential buildings, the review will examine:
the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety
related compliance and enforcement issues
international regulation and experience in this area.
An interim report is expected before the end of the year with a final report no later than spring 2018.
The Business and Property Courts
From 2 October 2017, the specialist civil courts (including the Technology and Construction Court) and the lists of the Chancery Division will become collectively known as the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales. The Business and Property Courts will act as a single umbrella for business specialist courts across England and Wales facilitating more flexible cross-deployment of judges with suitable expertise to sit on appropriate business and property cases. Initially there will also be Business and Property Courts in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff, with plans to expand to Newcastle and Liverpool. The intention is to increase the number of cases being handled in the regions. Again, it is being said that "no case should be deemed too big to be tried outside London".
This new structure, together with the Financial List and the Shorter and Flexible Trial Scheme, is intended to enhance the UK’s reputation for international dispute resolution.