CHANTAL-AIMÉE DOERRIES QC
PROFESSOR DOUGLAS S JONES AO
Contrary to views of some outsiders, the construction industry, including its lawyers, is highly adaptable and from time to time capable of significant reform. The last few decades have seen considerable innovation in the field of construction contracts, most strikingly, the introduction in many jurisdictions of a new, or largely new, form of dispute resolution – adjudication, together with the willingness of jurisdictions to interfere in payment obligations between parties to construction contracts by imposing terms. The 2020s seem likely to be equally modernising, but with the focus being on reforming the regulation of construction standards. This time the impetus comes largely from political pressure, rather than from the industry itself, following a number of tragic fires in residential complexes, such as at the Grenfell Tower in London and the Lacrosse Building in Melbourne.
In Construction Regulatory Reform: Where to from Here? Associate Professor Matthew Bell, Jeanette Barbaro, Justin Bates and Dr Deirdre Ní Fhloinn report, and comment, on current developments in relation to imposing more rigorous constructions standards across a number of jurisdictions. In Australia challenges are posed by a federal system which requires the reforms to take effect across nine federal, state and territory jurisdictions. The authors in discussing this jurisdiction focus on New South Wales and Victoria, concluding that despite the challenges, significant inroads have been made in respect of cladding rectifications, liability and standard setting. The next jurisdiction subjected to the microscopic lens is that of England and Wales, where progress has been slow, particularly when considering the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, but there are significant reforms currently before the Houses of Parliament. The reforms proposed include some potential radical elements, such as the introduction of an extended limitation period for claims under the Defective Premises Act, with retrospective effect, although the authors question whether this will turn out to provide a practical remedy to claimants. The comparative element is rounded off with a consideration of the struggle to promote meaningful reform in Ireland, a jurisdiction combining a common law heritage with membership of the European Union. In this highly interesting article, the authors remind us of the importance of ensuring safe buildings to the wider community, and closer to home, to the international construction law community.
In our next contribution, Construction Adjudication in a Comparative Perspective: The Case of the Danish Speedy Resolution, Associate Professor Sylvie Cécile Cavaleri reviews the recently introduced adjudication provisions to the newest suite of national standard construction contracts in Denmark. She assesses whether, by comparison with other construction adjudication