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Last edited 11 Dec 2019
A brief guide to UK construction laws
In the UK, construction is subject to a number of laws, both criminal and civil, which cover a diverse range of activities. This article aims to provide a brief overview of the main areas of law (as it relates to construction) and the key points relating to them. There is a particular emphasis on any laws which are likely to be updated in the near future (because of Brexit or other reasons).
 Criminal law
There are many criminal laws which could, in theory, be applied to the construction industry, however in practical terms, the most likely way a construction company could fall foul of criminal law would be to fail in its obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
While the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 remains the single most important piece of legislation in this area, there are countless other regulations which those involved in construction need to be aware.
A particular mention should be given to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, commonly referred to as ‘the CDM Regulations’. These collectively transpose European directives on the implementation of minimum requirements at temporary and mobile work sites.
Although they will not be directly impacted by Brexit, it is entirely possible that politicians will see Brexit as an opportunity to update regulations which came about as a result of the EU, in which case, these regulations could be an obvious candidate for change.
There are numerous licenses and consents a contractor might need to obtain depending on circumstances, so organisations will need to do their own research on a case-by-case basis. It is, however, worth pointing out that major building works (both commercial and residential) generally need to comply with the building regulations and it is anticipated that these will be significantly updated in the near future with an onus on improving safety, especially in residential developments.
 The environment and sustainability
The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017 require there to be an environmental impact assessment before planning permission can be granted for any development which could feasibly have a significant effect on the environment.
Similarly, the building regulations lay down sustainability criteria for developments (such as minimum energy requirements). There seems to be a definite trend towards increasing the environmental and sustainability requirements of businesses in general and so it is at least very possible that the current requirements will be reviewed in the near future.
 Infrastructure and utilities
Many developments require arrangements with local authorities and utility suppliers in order to create appropriate infrastructure. There is currently nothing in this area of law which seems particularly likely to be updated soon.
 Obligatory requirements
This is a fairly broad area, but essentially relates to terms and conditions imposed or implied by law or that are mandatory in contracts. As it is so generic, it is hard to make any specific comments, but, again, there is nothing in this area which jumps out as an obvious candidate for a post-Brexit update.
 About this article
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Case law.
- Contracts / payment.
- Health and safety.
- Income tax.
- Planning permission.
16:45, 28 Aug 2019 (BST)
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