Construction and engineering disputes event summary: annual legal review

Written on 27 Jan 2017

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.

The event was chaired by Partner Matthew Heywood, with speakers including David Kirkpatrick, Daniel Cashmore, Jote Rai and Tom Andrews from Osborne Clarke.

Lessons Learned

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

Construction disputes – Osborne Clarke

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