The Technology and Construction Court (TCC) has heard the first case to test the new 30-year liability period for building defects. Homebuilder Barratt has been allowed to add claims, issued against its civil engineers, which were previously time-barred to proceedings.
Following the tragic events of the Grenfell fire, The Building Safety Act makes a party liable for up to 30 years after a development is completed for building defects that render a building uninhabitable, provided that the development was completed prior to 28th June 2022.
Barratt had built 130 apartment blocks. When undertaking remedial work to replace defective cladding, they discovered that 27 of the blocks required structural repairs due to defective design, which led to a claim against the civil engineer Aecom in 2020.
After the Building Safety Act was passed, Barratt decided to add new claims to its case, believing they would now be allowed under the 30-year limit. These claims were brought under the terms of the Civil Liability Act (CLA) and the Defective Premises Act (DPA), they would have been time barred under the old 6-year limitation period.
Aecom argument to the court that because Barratt was included among the persons who have taken on the work a claim under the DPA was barred by section 1(4). They also alleged a claim under the CLA had to be brought by the homeowner to be effective.
Whilst the court noted the CLA was difficult to interpret, it disagreed with both of Aecom’s arguments and held it was reasonable for Barrat to amend its claim.
The court said that following the Grenfell tragedy, the CLA point was of considerable public importance.
If you would like more advice on the impact of these changes in law on your liability and how your insurance programme will react, please do contact your usual contacts at Bullerwell & Co Ltd or find our contact details at Bullerwell.