The risks in proceeding without clear contract terms

Two recent construction cases highlight the pitfalls of not properly agreeing all of the contract terms and conditions before starting the relevant works.

In Arcadis Consulting (UK) Ltd v. AMEC (BSC) Ltd, an engineering firm, then called Hyder Consulting UK Ltd (“Hyder”) was appointed to provide structural engineering design services to a contractor, then called CV Buchan Limited (“Buchan”).

Limitation (childhood abuse) (Scotland) Bill - Update 

In March this year, we highlighted that the Scottish Government would legislate during the 2016/17 parliamentary session to remove limitation from all damages claims for historic child abuse. The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill has now been formally introduced to the Scottish Parliament, commencing its legislative journey.

A first and last Autumn Statement from a new chancellor

Autumn, at least in Statement terms, has in recent years got increasingly close to Christmas. While we still have to wait until 15 December for the Scottish Budget, the UK Autumn Statement is at least close enough to autumn to allow time for reaction from the Scottish Government. It was striking quite how much of the new Chancellor’s first (and, it seems, last!) Autumn Statement will not have direct effect in Scotland.

Overpayments to a contractor spells hard luck for employer

A recent Court of Appeal decision illustrates the dangers of failing to properly assess the amount due to a contractor, resulting in an overpayment that cannot then be recovered.

The case was Graham Leslie v Farrar Construction Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 1041 and concerned the construction of housing developments for Mr Leslie (the Employer) by Farrar Construction Ltd (the Contractor).

The Facts:

Scottish court fees increase announced

From 28 November 2016, the Scottish courts are bringing in a new table of fees aimed at making the Scottish Courts self-sufficient. While many fees have remained unchanged, or subject to a relatively meagre uplift, there are a few surprising increases. With Qualified One Way Costs Shifting on the horizon, the impact will be greater for insurers.

The Court of Session (Scotland’s High Court) has been particularly affected – a result, no doubt, of the moves to restrict the Court of Session to higher-value cases.

Payment schedule - pitfalls reaffirmed

Earlier this year we warned of the potential pitfalls arising from payment schedules incorporated within building contracts, following the decision of Grove Developments Ltd v Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Ltd [2016] EWHC 168 (TCC).

GDPR confirmed to come into force in the UK in May 2018 as planned

Last week, Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, confirmed in oral evidence given to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that the EU General Data Protection Regulation would, after all, come into force in the UK on 25 May 2018. The UK’s Brexit vote had cast some doubt on whether the UK might seek to negotiate a way out of GDPR as part of the Brexit negotiation process due to begin once the Article 50 withdrawal process has started.

Mrs Bradley said:

IHT exemption for “heritage property” – could you qualify?

With the continued freeze of the inheritance tax nil rate band set to continue for a few more years (£325,000 until April 2021 at least) now is the time to make sure that all other reliefs and exemptions are fully explored. One of these is the little known but potentially very useful exemption known as the “conditional exemption”.

Crofting Commission Review

The Scottish Government has ordered a review into the governance arrangements of crofting’s statutory body, the Crofting Commission. Fergus Ewing, the crofting minister, has stated that the review will  “promote effective governance within the Crofting Commission and it is an opportunity to take stock, learn from experiences and examine positives as well as opportunities for improvement”.

When isn’t a final account a final account?

Under s111 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, failure to issue a pay less notice renders the sum applied for the “notified sum”. The recent case of Kilker Projects Ltd v Purton (t/a Richwood Interiors) [2016] EWHC 2616 (TCC) ties up the loose ends of a recent string of cases examining the knotty issue of when a “notified sum” can be revalued. The cases are well known but bear repeating…..