As we have discussed previously, the Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, becoming the Building Safety Act 2022 (the "Act").
Whilst it will take some time before all provision of the Act come into force, today (28 June 2022) is a significant starting point with the introduction of some of the key provisions, marking the beginning of many changes for those working in the construction industry in England.
Changes coming into force today
Changes to the Defective Premises Act 1972 (the "DPA")
The changes to the DPA introduce new, increased, limitation periods for both historic and future works, with a new s2A expanding the scope of the duties owed (and works covered by) the DPA. For a full discussion of the changes under the DPA, see our recent blog.
Building Safety Regulator
As of today, the Building Safety Regulator (the "BSR") will be put on a statutory footing, albeit we'll need to wait until April 2023 before the BSR actually goes 'live'.
Once in operation, the BSR will be responsible for the regulation of 'higher risk' buildings in England and Wales. However, as we discussed in our update 'What is a 'higher risk building', the full and final description is yet to be confirmed, with the Government currently in the process of seeking views on their proposed position.
Introduction of Building Liability Orders and information orders
Building Liability Orders, which come into effect today, extend the scope of liability in respect of building safety claims, so that any associate of a body corporate (company or LLP) which has a claim brought against, can be made jointly and severally liable. With these orders the Government is trying to prevent parties escaping liability for defective works because the works were carried out through a subsidiary, shell company, or special purpose vehicle with little assets. The introduction of this power marks a significant change to the traditional approach to liability of companies carrying out works. We will be providing further insight on this, shortly.
Powers to sue and fine construction products manufacturers
Today also marks the day that increased rights to sue construction products manufacturers comes into force.
Under Sections 147 to 155 of the Act a damages claim can now be brought against a manufacturer of construction products whose breaches of the Construction Products Regulations cause a building or dwelling to become unfit for habitation.
The wording of the Act suggests that liability may also be imposed beyond manufacturers and could include a person who markets or supplies a product and makes a misleading statement in relation to it, which could potentially extend the scope to a professional consultant.
The exact scope of the liability under these sections is likely only going to become clear once they are considered by the Courts.
Today is just the first step in the changes coming into effect under the Act. Further changes will come into force on 28 July 2022 (removing requirements relating to insurance for approved inspectors from the Building Act 1984) and 1 October 2022 (enabling social housing complaints to escalate a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman service directly).
Following this, we need to wait for the government to confirm the exact timing of the remaining provisions coming into force, the intention is, however, that the majority of the remaining provisions will come into force between now and October 2023.
We will provide further updates on the new Act and changes being introduced as they unfold.