PODCAST | How has Covid-19 affected construction?

Kuits Logo Square LogoExperts discuss the legal viewpoint on how the pandemic has impacted construction contracts and how to avoid disputes, in this Place North West podcast sponsored by law firm Kuits Solicitors.

Charlie Tomlinson, head of construction, engineering and energy for Kuits, and Mark Bond, director of quantity surveying infrastructure at construction consultancy Walker Sime, set out how developers and contractors should prepare for the future, and what protections contracts should include.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption across the industry, with many developers and contractors halting work on sites in the first few weeks of lockdown, causing project delays. As companies start preparing for the lifting of restrictions following announcements last week, there are still so many unanswered questions – of which the legal aspects are key.

Questions asked in this episode:

  • What do the restrictions on movement and social distancing mean from a legal perspective? Are they regarded as law?
  • Force majeure has been widely touted as a contractual solution to the crisis, but is it likely to succeed as a contractor’s remedy to delay and disruption?
  • What other clauses might the contractor rely upon under standard forms of construction contract?
  • What can contractors do to prepare claims if necessary, and what are the essential components of a successful claim?
  • What effects will the pandemic have on new construction contracts or those about to commence on site?

Key takeaways: 

  • The Government’s social distancing measures are not enshrined in legislation, and are unlikely to be so, as ministers prefer a ‘light touch’ regulatory approach to avoid slowing the economy further
  • There are advantages of certain contractual clauses in terms of freeing parties from obligations, such as having to complete a project within a specified timeframe, but how they are applied must be carefully assessed
  • Lodging legal cases is timely and costly and the best way to resolve disputes is through arbitration, rather than court action. However, the volume of disputes will undoubtedly have risen during the pandemic
  • Parties involved in planning future development projects must Place North West Podcast MPUensure contracts are drawn up to be flexible and include sufficient protections, taking into account lessons learned from the pandemic

Charlie and Mark will be running a follow-up discussion via Zoom to give developers, contractors and other industry experts the opportunity to ask questions and share opinion and best practice on the topic. To register interest in this session, visit eventbrite or email sarahglynn@kuits.com

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