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Building Services Contractors Must Consider Changes to Legal Liabilities 

Building Services Contractors Must Consider Changes to Legal Liabilities 
24 January 2024
 

The Building Safety Act is already changing the legal landscape for the building services profession, according to BESA.

The association considers the extension of the claims period for defects from six to 30 years to be the key issue affecting contractors, as it substantially changes the rules under the 1972 Defective Premises Act (DPA).

The change means that people can claim under the DPA from six years from completion of a building to either a 30-year limitation period for dwellings completed before 28 June 2022, or15 years for dwellings due to be completed after 28 June 2022.

Anyone involved in the design, construction and management of a residential building should have this on their radar, BESA believes, although the practical and insurance issues are considerable.

 

“Digital record keeping was not the powerful tool it is today so many firms may find it hard to dig out the necessary information if instructed to by a court. Also, there will have been wholesale staff changes over that time so it will often be impossible to rely on the recollections of key individuals."

–Rachel Davidson

Director of Specialist Knowledge, BESA

 

“In theory at least, companies could be asked for project records dating back three decades,” said BESA’s Director of Specialist Knowledge Rachel Davidson. “Before the act, documents would most likely have been retained for up to 12 years in line with industry legal best practice and then destroyed.

“Digital record keeping was not the powerful tool it is today so many firms may find it hard to dig out the necessary information if instructed to by a court. Also, there will have been wholesale staff changes over that time so it will often be impossible to rely on the recollections of key individuals,” she added.

Rachel also points out that many of the parties involved may no longer be trading and others could lack adequate insurance cover: “Contractors will have to get used to facing more forensic legal scrutiny, particularly in terms of long-term liabilities,” said BESA’s Director of Legal and Commercial Affairs Debbie Petford.

“However, BESA members have access to an expert legal team who are carefully tracking the Act and its implications and will be able to advise on ways to prepare and protect yourself, and deal with any claims.”

Picture: a photograph of Rachel Davidson. Image Credit: BESA

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 24 January 2024

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