Four months after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the largest health and safety review in the UK since 1945 is underway.
A public inquiry, led by former Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Martin Moore-Bick and an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, aim to find out how the fire was able to spread so rapidly, leading to such a large loss of life.
Sir Martin has stated that he will examine, in detail, how the tower’s construction and subsequent modifications to cladding may have impacted the combustibility of the overall structure.
Although it will be some months before a full picture emerges, a number of important legal issues relating to the interpretation of building regulations are now starting to surface.
One of the key aspects which will affect many involved in the construction industry relates to building certificates.
Adam Davis, a Partner and Head of Palmers’ Construction department, said: “As a consequence of the Grenfell tragedy, a spotlight has been shone on building regulations and liability issues.
“It has now been confirmed that new cladding must satisfy Class A2 to BS EN 13501-1 standards. Many public and private buildings across the country have subsequently been checked and it is alleged that many do not meet these standards.
“However, whether construction companies and cladding sub-contractors will face claims for breaching these building regulations will depend on a number of points.
“The legal ramifications relating to liability are extremely complex but, to summarise, they include establishing what was originally specified, whether final certificates under the construction contract were issued and whether the remedial works carried out fall outside the legal limitation period.
“This last point is, in itself, complex as standard contractual limitation periods may vary and can be time-barred depending on bespoke terms which have been agreed by both parties.
“Any company which has been involved in specifying or sub-contracting services relating to remedial building works such as cladding, should seek specialist legal advice on issues relating to both health and safety risks and liability issues.”
For help and advice on building regulations, contract agreements and liability issues, please contact us.