Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

Plans submitted for City of London’s second-tallest building

The plans have been submitted by investment-management firm Schroders, developer Stanhope, and Arney Fender Katsalidis Architects. The building, known as 55 Bishopsgate, will be 285m tall and have 63 storeys. The building will have a tapered design, with a structural lattice inspired by the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. Schroders claims that the building “relies on a highly efficient architectural and structural system that provides a sympathetic response to protected views across the capital”.

55 Bishopsgate will include 74,000 square metres of workspace across 60 floors, with the upper two floors and ground floor being set aside for public space.

If approval is provided, the anticipated completion date will be by the end of the decade.

You can read more here.

Fears that construction industry is unprepared for new quality mark

Construction leaders have warned that global manufacturers have started to withdraw products as they consider the UK to be too difficult to do business with, owing to the issues that have arisen during the period of transitioning to a new quality mark. Approximately 28 percent of construction products are imported and half of those are from the EU, so the repercussions could be significant.

The Construction Leadership Council has written to the new secretaries of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, raising their concerns that the transition arrangements are disorganised and the UK testing capacity has not been scaled up to meet the demands. They have requested a two year delay to allow a working party between the Government and the construction sector to plan a transition.

You can read more here.

Report published on construction adjudication

The Adjudication Society and Kings College London have published a report on trends in UK construction adjudication, based on two surveys launched in April 2022. In the foreword to the report, Coulson LJ noted the "truly startling" statistic that 40 percent of adjudication users reported suspicions of bias on at least one occasion.

More importantly, from the perspective of professionals operating in the industry, Coulson LJ believes a large proportion of disputes are caused by inadequate contract administration or a failure by other professionals to ensure the smooth running of a project. A number of those surveyed mentioned the increasing costs of adjudication, with a finding that the average total fee charged by adjudicators is £12,000 to £14,000. The report also describes suggested areas for reform.

You can read the report here.

Breakshore Ltd v Red Key Concepts Ltd [2022] 5 WLUK 677 – TCC confirms when to use Part 8 proceedings to enforce an adjudication decision

The Technology and Construction Court (TCC) has confirmed once again, in the context of proceedings to enforce an adjudicator's decision, that a party looking to resist enforcement can only use Part 8 in limited circumstances. In this case, the dispute arose from a JCT contract and the adjudication that followed. The Defendant disagreed with the adjudicator's decision and failed to comply with the terms. The Claimant issued a claim, seeking summary judgment to enforce the adjudication decision, with the Defendant issuing Part 8 proceedings in response to resist enforcement.

The TCC found that the Part 8 claim must relate to a self-contained issue, arising during the adjudication, which is unlikely to involve a substantial dispute of fact (or which would be "unconscionable" for the court to ignore). It should not be used to seek multiple declarations on questions of fact in an attempt to avoid enforcement. There was no clear evidence that the decision of the adjudicator was wrong and the Claimant was awarded summary judgment.

You can read more here.

Chipboard manufacturer fined £2.15m for tragic death of worker

On 1 November 2022, Norbord Europe Limited was found guilty of two charges under health and safety legislation at Perth Sheriff Court.

George Laird was undertaking maintenance work to a wood drier at the company's site in Cowie when a high-pressure hose was used to remove hot ash from within a hot gas duct above a combustion chamber. Mr Laid was working underneath the combustion chamber and was enveloped in hot water, steam, and ash. Mr Laird sustained burns over 90% of his body and tragically died from these injuries the next day.

The HSE investigation that followed found evidence of a catalogue of failings by the company, including a failure to provide a safe system of work for employees removing hot ash from the combustion chamber. Employees were left to devise their own methods of working.

You can read more here.

Project Oriel approval

Plans to build a £250m eye hospital at King's Cross in London, known as Project Oriel, on the site of the former St Pancras hospital have been approved. Bouygues (U.K.) Limited has developed a full construction programme, with the hospital due to open in 2027. AECOM is leading the design team with Penoyre & Prasad as chief architect.

You can read more here.

Two-stage procurement: some key considerations for PCSAs

In this blog, Arash Rajai, Partner and Claire Wilmann, Senior Associate in RPC's Real Estate and Construction Team explore some of the unique and commonly negotiated aspects of a pre-construction services agreement, a contract (introduced in our first Blog) which is used to document the pre-construction phase (stage 1) in two-stage procurement. Without losing sight of the core focus of the PCSA, which is to promote early collaboration between the contractor and the rest of the project team, they cover topics such as open book procurement and site risk assessments, which feed into the development during the pre-construction phase of the contract sum for the main works. They also explore bargaining positions of the parties and incentive mechanisms that can be used to keep prices under control.

You can read the blog here.