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Last edited 02 Mar 2022
CIAT raises concerns about Building Safety Bill
CIAT believes late Government amendments to its Building Safety Bill – including the proposal to extend liability periods – is unworkable and has the danger of potentially persecuting innocent parties without the means to defend themselves.
CIAT supports the premise of taking appropriate action against those who have deliberately and knowingly specified, provided, or fitted substandard materials. However, the proposal to extend liability periods is unrealistic, unworkable, and unachievable and has the danger of potentially persecuting innocent parties without the means to defend themselves or without any realistic positive outcome for the owner/occupant.
Imposing a retroactive period of 30 years is a reactive addition the Building Safety Bill and is not the solution. There may not be insurance in place, the documents may no longer exist, as the insurance and limitations periods under which these practices were operating had expired and also due to the more stringent GDPR rules, the claim would go against the contracts and certification processes as issued at the time and could be challenged through the courts, even if the practices still existed or the personnel were the same. If the claim was pursued, the practices or individuals may have no alternative but to declare themselves bankrupt which provides no resolution for any party.
The narrative from Government is implying that it is aiming these measures at large manufacturers, contractors, and developers without taking cognisance that it will in reality affect those sole practitioners and micro-SMEs (up to 10 employees) which are the majority of practices in the professional services sector. In addition to this issue, many of those firms will no longer be operating. As such, CIAT would urge Government to continue with its original commitment to fund the remedial works as promised and aim any sanctions or pursure recovery at the right parties. Any proposed actions should be proportionate, fair, and realistic.
CIAT is becoming increasingly concerned by the plethora of suggested amendments to the Bill. These are changing on a daily basis, and it is hoped that common sense will prevail. In addition to the matter of extending liability periods retrospectively, it is important that those writing this legislation understand that professional service providers do not operate multi-million-pound companies and are mainly micro SMEs (up to ten) or sole practitioners. They simply will not have the capital to fund uninsured losses for remedial work that they had no influence or control over.
CIAT would also suggest that the Government opens dialogue with the sector and experts who could contribute to a constructive way forward to enshrine legislation which is proportionate, fair, and achievable.
This article originally appeared on the CIAT website on 1 March 2022.
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