We have now entered new national lockdown restrictions across the country to help to control the spread of Covid-19. This has brought in new restrictions but the Government position currently remains the same in respect of the construction sector in England although there are suggestions that Scotland may be reviewing the position.
The current position in England is that firms and tradespeople in the construction sector and its supply chain, including merchants, suppliers and produce manufacturers should continue to operate during this national lockdown. Where it is essential to travel or stay in accommodation whether to get to work or for the purposes of carrying out work, those in the industry remain able to do so.
The Site Operating Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has recently been updated to version 7. Despite this, there remains a real concern that parties to construction contracts will become embroiled in disputes over the effects of Covid-19.
The CLC has published a number of other guidance documents summarising how to resolve disputes, on record keeping and future proofing contracts which is all very useful and can be read here. It has also recently conducted a survey across the industry across industry professionals dealing with construction claims and its results are very interesting.
The majority of respondents indicated:
It is common for disputes not to fully materialise until a project is complete for all sorts of reasons but it is becoming apparent that COVID-19 is now having a significant impact. We have seen lots of examples of parties collaborating and trying to maintain a relationship during the works in order to complete the project. However, it is not unusual for the gloves to come off as soon as practical completion has been achieved and at final account.
It remains essential for parties involved in construction projects to maintain good records as they can make or break a claim or defence. They may also help the parties to resolve claims more efficiently between themselves and can help to mitigate the delay and/or additional costs.
At Myerson, our Construction Team offers advice on all aspects of contentious issues. We act on a range of matters including assisting in the resolution of payment disputes and claims for extensions of time and/or loss and expense in order to avoid the need for more formal proceedings. For more information, please contact Myerson’s Construction team on 0161 941 4000 or via email.