On 24 January 2017 the Osborne Clarke Construction Disputes team hosted an “annual legal review” breakfast event with Turner & Townsend at our London office. The review focused on some of the latest developments in construction law with a look back at some of the key cases of 2016. The event was well attended by commercial and legal teams from a wide range of companies working in the construction and engineering sectors.
2016 was a year of change for many. It was a year that saw political changes (such as the UK voting to leave the EU), economic changes (fluctuating markets and currencies) and it was a big year for the construction sector too. We presented on some of the most prominent legal developments during our legal review, some of the key lessons or “take-aways” from the event were:
1. Take care when amending standard forms of contract:
Ensure payment schedules do not override the T&Cs; the dates are consistent with the contractual regime and they are applied consistently in practice [Balfour Beatty v Grove].
When amendments to standard form contracts are made it may change the balance of risks between the parties; it is therefore important to understand what the amendments mean and how they interact with the contract as a whole [J Murphy & Sons Ltd v Beckton Energy].
2. Watch out for agreements that may fall within the definition of Construction Contracts under the Construction Act:
Final account settlement agreements and other collateral agreements are more likely to form part of the original Construction Contract for the purposes of the Construction Act and so fall under an adjudicator’s jurisdiction; it is still advisable to make the parties’ intentions clear and draft in the required dispute resolution provisions in any such collateral agreement. [J Murphy & Sons Ltd v W Maher and Sons Ltd].
3. The perennial problems of letters of intent:
The presentation on letters of intent looked at contract formation and when letters of intent are binding contracts; reviewed a check list of some issues to consider when drafting letters of intent, and highlighted some pitfalls that can arise when letters of intent are badly drafted by reference to the recent cases of [Arcadis Consulting (UK) Ltd v AMEC (BSC) Ltd and Spartafield Ltd v Penten Group Ltd].
4. Key cases of 2016
- Arcadis Consulting (UK) Ltd v AMEC (BSC) Ltd  EWHC 2509 (TCC)
- Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Limited v Grove Developments Ltd  EWCA 990
- Carillion Construction Limited v Woods Bagot Europe Ltd and others  EWHC 905 (TCC)
- Grove Developments Ltd v Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Ltd  EWHC 168 (TCC)
- J Murphy & Sons Ltd v Beckton Energy  EWHC 607 (TCC)
- J Murphy & Sons Ltd v W. Maher and Sons Limited  EWHC 1148 (TCC)
- Spartafield Ltd v Penten Group Ltd  EWHC 2295 (TCC)
Construction disputes – Osborne Clarke
Whether you are an investor, developer, contractor, or specialist sub-contractor, our team’s experience, expertise and sector-knowledge will help you meet whatever challenges you might face.
Our team comprises dedicated lawyers with many years of experience advising on major projects around the world and across a wide array of industries. Crucially, we will take time to truly understand your commercial goals, drawing on our sector knowledge and understanding the financial, political and cultural sensitivities of your project, we’ll deliver the result you need.