RICS launches new arbitration service for construction and engineering disputes

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has launched a new arbitration service for construction and engineering disputes, offering a:

  • Fast track arbitration service for disputes under GBP 100,000, which caps the parties' recoverable costs and limits the amount arbitrators can charge. The award must be published within six months.
  • Select arbitration service, aimed at providing a "viable alternative" to the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) for high value, complex disputes. The award should be published within 12 months.

In announcing the new service, Martin Burns, Head of ADR Research and Development (RICS) explained that there is "growing demand for more comprehensive deliberation of issues" than is currently provided by statutory adjudication, which can lead to rough justice, especially in high value and complex disputes that are unsuitable for such a rapid process.

Infrastructure UK and Major Projects Authority to merge

Last week the government announced that Infrastructure UK (IUK) and the Major Projects Authority (MPA) are to merge, bringing the government’s expertise, knowledge and skills at managing and delivering major economic projects under one roof for the first time.

The new organisation, which will be called the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, will bring together government expertise in the financing, delivery and assurance of these projects, which range from large scale infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Tunnel to major transformation programmes such as Universal Credit.

It will come into formal existence on 1 January 2016, reporting jointly to the Chancellor and Minister for the Cabinet Office, and its Chief Executive will be Tony Meggs, who is the current Chief Executive of the MPA.

Inquiry launched into government decision to privatise the Green Investment Bank

The Environmental Audit Select Committee has invited comments on the government's proposed privatisation of the Green Investment Bank (GIB), and in particular whether it:

  • Will achieve the benefits claimed. The government announced the privatisation in June 2015, saying that it will allow the GIB access to larger pools of capital and enable it to act more freely.
  • Is consistent with the GIB's role in unlocking private investment and supporting projects that would not otherwise be funded.
  • Forms a coherent part of the government's broader strategy on renewables and the green sector, or presents any other risks or opportunities.

The committee will also hear oral evidence from the GIB, stakeholder organisations and the government. It has not yet scheduled a date for the hearing. The deadline for commenting is 15 November 2015.

Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 introduced into Parliament

The Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 was announced in the Queen's Speech as part of the government's legislative programme for the 2015-16 Parliamentary session. It had its first reading in the House of Commons on 13 October 2015.

Through the Bill, the government aims to progress proposals to build more affordable housing, thus giving more people the chance to own their own home and improve housing management. The Bill seeks to achieve this, in part, by implementing reforms ensuring that the planning system does not add any unnecessary obstacles to the delivery of new homes. The Bill applies to England only, with some exceptions.