Last updateThu, 08 Feb 2024 10am

Blacklisting case heads for the High Court

Picture of a demonstration by the Blacklist Support Group for Your Expert Witness storyA case brought against construction giant Carillion in the so-called ‘blacklisting’ affair will be subject to a full two-day hearing in front of a High Court judge, it has been decided.

The decision was made by Mr Justice Singh at an Employment Appeal Tribunal hearing in London, in the case brought by electrician Dave Smith. The judge noted that the case could have a legal importance “going well beyond this case or even blacklisting”.

John Hendy QC, acting for Mr Smith, argued that the original tribunal decision to dismiss Mr Smith’s appeal for unfair dismissal – in essence that Carillion was not liable because he was employed by an agency – is in violation of the Human Rights Act and Articles 8 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that these pieces of legislation should apply to all ‘workers’ and not just direct employees.

Noted expert to be new head of construction law centre

Picture of Dr David Mosey for Your Expert Witness storyConstruction and engineering law specialists Trowers & Hamlins has announced that its national head of projects and construction, Dr David Mosey, has been offered a Chair of Law at King's College, London, as director of its Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution.

Dr Mosey has led the construction practice of Trowers & Hamlins for over 21 years, where he "forged a national reputation as an innovator and specialist in collaborative working". He is described by leading legal expert search firm Chambers & Partners as a "partnering guru...who gives something to the industry".

Idiots on ladders unveiled on Facebook

Winner of Idiots on Ladders competition for Your Expert witnessstoryAfter three months of picture submissions and voting, the Ladder Association's Idiots on Ladders campaign has discovered the biggest 'ladder idiot' in the UK. Beginning on 1 September, the association welcomed submissions from the public of the worst uses of ladders they could find. The competition, which aimed to shame dangerous ladder users into changing their ways, then offered people the chance to vote on Facebook to decide which picture was the worst.

The clear winner, with over 30% of the vote, showed a worker reaching up to the top of a chimney with a gaping fall directly below him (pictured). Not only could the fall have killed him, but one commenter pointed out that his ladder still did not reach high enough to keep him from stretching upwards.

Report may help to prevent road drainage problems

A new report has been published by the Transport Research Laboratory concerning technologies for continuously monitoring the performance of "non-pressurised tubular structures": in particular, surface water highway drainage systems. The research was carried out by Messrs Harrington and Iaquinta for the laboratory, which provides expert witness services in all areas of transport and in particular road traffic incidents.

In an introduction to the report, Integrated monitoring system for drains and other tubular structures, the TRL says: "Failures on the motorway and trunk road networks often resulting from heavy rainfall occur because drains are not able to cope with the large volume of water they suddenly have to evacuate. Currently the assessment of these drains is carried out every 10 years using visual (closed circuit television - CCTV) or manual (mandrel) techniques to identify structural failures, with additional reactive assessments undertaken if issues (blockages or build-up of debris) requiring immediate treatment arise.

"It is thought that the routine assessments aimed at identifying structural failures will always be necessary to some extent; however the reactive approach to dealing with emergencies is less than ideal. Hence, there is a potential need for continuous monitoring that would be able to provide real-time or near real-time information about the state of a drainage network. Research was therefore carried out into a drain condition monitoring system which could be permanently installed and left in operation unattended."

The report deals with different methodologies for monitoring what is happening inside surface water drains, concluding with recommendations for two methods – radio wave attenuation and an acoustic-based approach – recommended for further trials. The authors then suggest other areas in which the techniques could be applied, in particular the monitoring of railway tunnels.

"...a similar approach could be implemented for much larger tubular structures, in particular to detect changes from a reference state. This would typically be the case for instance in underground obstacle detection systems (eg Unattended Train Operation) for monitoring tunnels and detect people or objects on the tracks. One of the advantages of this approach, compared to radar or video, is that there is no requirement for line of sight (ie it works the same if the tube is curved) with the ability to see beyond tunnel bends and corners."

The research followed on from a report published in 2010 by the same authors into Non-invasive techniques to assess drains.

The new report, reference PPR630; ISBN 978-1-908855-26-8; ISSN 0968-4093, can be downloaded from the TRL website, at www.trl.co.uk/online_store/reports_publications/latest_publications/.

Cranes disappearing from UK skyline as construction contracts further

Picture of tower cranes by Chris Stokes for Your Expert Witness storyCounting tower cranes has long been used as a rule of thumb by experts for assessing construction activity and the number of cranes on the UK's skyline has dropped to its lowest point in over two years. That is according to infrastructure experts at international law firm Pinsent Masons, who have described the situation as: "...symbolic of the sharp falls in new commercial construction, deep cuts in capital spending being made by the public sector, and the current lack of positive UK infrastructure policy."

Data obtained by the firm is the latest evidence of a slowdown in construction activity around the UK, following the completion of various projects related to the Olympics, and is likely to cause further concern around the future of infrastructure spending ahead of next month's Autumn Statement.