Cladding Advice and Disputes

Posted by James Bessey, 10th June 2019
Our team was engaged within hours of the tragic Grenfell fire in 2017 and has since built up an enviable track record of supporting clients in this area. We have advised large PLCs, Developers, Social Housing organisations and Public Bodies as well as a series of Management Companies and residential tenant groups.

We have lectured extensively on cladding issues around the country, including for the CIOB for whom we have provided a webinar on the subject.

Our experience includes:

  1. Winning a case in Adjudication for the cost of replacement of cladding to be paid by the Main Contractor and its supply chain.
  2. Securing NHBC coverage for clients on multiple cladding type products (not just ACM) on residential tower blocks.
  3. Actively pursuing 3 High Court actions, one already listed for trial, for commercial clients.
  4. Engaging in a series of Pre-action claims and mediations on cladding claims.

We act for a wide range of employer/owner/occupier clients. We took a decision not to act in cladding matters for contractors, consultants or sub-contractors as we are acutely aware of the sensitivities around this issue. We have the benefit of support from a highly regarded Health and Safety law team: many clients are keen to assess their H&S obligations and what steps they need to take. We also work closely with a number of specialist Fire Consultants, Experts and Counsel engaged in this area. We are able to put clients in touch with experienced operators in the field who can visit site and assess the situation. Our work means that we start any instruction with a detailed knowledge of the regulatory and technical framework relating to the Building Act/Regulations, the ADB guidance and the cladding and insulation products in the marketplace. We have been present at BS8414 fire tests.

A construction client commented: “Finding lawyers to handle such an important case could have been a real minefield. It was such an important choice. But from our initial conversation onwards your calm, supportive yet realistic attitude inspired confidence, both in me and, after our initial meeting, in the rest of our board.

“It’s obviously been a nail-biting time, and we were anticipating a long fight …. but they have already agreed the principle matters of replacing the cladding ….. this result is just wonderful, and as you can imagine it’s a huge relief for all the leaseholders.  So, thank you both for all your wonderful work so far.”

Our experience allows to recognise and respond to the different challenges of Commercial development with a framework of warranties and residential development with an NHBC or similar type of warranty product. We provide management companies with advice and guidance on issues such as director responsibility/authority, obligations on information disclosure and circulation, issues around leasehold owners and tenant occupiers and the interface with other owners/occupiers. Our experiences allows us to offer fixed fees for certain pieces of advice to help give residential tenant management companies cost certainty.

Lead Partners: James Bessey and Rachel Gwilliam.

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