Last updateThu, 08 Feb 2024 10am

RICS offers an update on construction law

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is once more mounting its Legal Issues in Construction conference this year. The conference will be held on 6 November at the Cavendish Conference Centre, in London’s Marylebone, and will qualify for 5.5 hours of formal CPD.

This year’s programme will provide crucial updates and expert advice and guidance, and has been developed in partnership with Pinsent Masons and Keating Chambers – the leading law firm and chambers operating in the sector.

The construction industry is increasingly complex and challenging, as are the legal risks involved. That makes it imperative for professionals in the sector to keep up-to-date with recent case legislation and developments.

Court case highlights spec change dangers

A recent Northern Ireland High Court case has highlighted challenges that can be faced when a specification is changed.

The court heard how new-build apartments in Newtonards, Northern Ireland, had been specified with a BBA-approved full tanking solution with an insurance-backed warranty. However, a quantity surveying error costed less than a quarter of the required product, leading to a specification switch to a cheaper, partially tanked solution.

Changes in housing law on the way in wake of Grenfell tragedy

A legal review of the current housing law, carried out following the Grenfell Tower tragedy which killed 71 people last June, has called for sweeping changes to improve safety standards and protect tenants.

The report urges a cultural change so that those responsible for the health and safety of occupiers become proactive in fulfilling those responsibilities, says Liz Brady (pictured), a property specialist at Kent law firm Furley Page.

Liz says Closing The Gaps: Health and Safety at Home, a report commissioned by housing charity Shelter, could help to shape future legislation alongside other high-profile investigations, such as the ongoing official Public Enquiry headed by Sir Martin Moore-Bick. Dame Judith Hackitt has also recently published her preliminary findings on building regulations and fire safety.

Leading property lawyer comments on Dreamvar ruling

The Court of Appeal has announced a ruling regarding the Dreamvar case which will make conveyancers accountable for their client's actions.

Ian Peach, Partner and Head of Residential Property at Coffin Mew, commented:

“In my view, this decision will not just affect Residential Property but the profession in general and I expect impact upon firm’s Professional Indemnity Insurance premiums moving forward.

“It highlights the need for seller’s solicitors to not just correctly verify the identity of the seller, but to also do their upmost to actually link that person to the property being sold.

Conveyancers in firing line over ground rents

In recent weeks there has been a deal of press and public indignation over ground rents that can double or more overnight. It is an issue that may be harbouring an avalanche of negligence claims against solicitors, according to Joshua Munro, a barrister at Hailsham Chambers.

He writes: “Purchasers of long-leasehold interests in property may regard themselves as the ‘owners’ of the property. However, many thousands have discovered that they are subject to covenants in favour of freeholders.

“When the true position is found out as to increasing ground rent liabilities, it is very likely that the long-leasehold owners will want to make claims. The problems are often remediable, via leasehold enfranchaisement and acquisition of a share of freehold, or an extension of the long lease’s term with reduction of ground rent to a peppercorn.