Last week saw two major announcements in relation to issues of building safety and liability for historic safety issues on high rise residential buildings. A welcome extension has been granted in relation to the new building inspector regime and a dispute over the extent of liability created by the provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022 ("BSA") is heading to the Supreme Court.

Extension for building inspectors to prove their competence

Many people in the industry have been warning that the building inspection industry was fast approaching a cliff edge in light of the changes brought in by the BSA. Under the original timetable set by the Building Safety Regulator ("BSR"), all building inspectors required to be registered with the BSR and have had their competence certified before 6 April 2024. However, given that the numbers of registered inspectors are not at the level hoped for, a relaxation has now been granted. This means that where an individual is:

  • an existing building control professional;
  • registered as a Class 1 registered building inspector by 6 April 2024; and
  • enrolled in and in the process of having their competency assessed through one of the BSR-approved competency assessment schemes by 6 April 2024

then the scope of their registration will be temporarily extended to allow them to carry out work as if their registration class had been updated. This is, however, a temporary position and will only apply until 6 July 2024. After this date, those who do not successfully complete a competency assessment and upgrade their registration will not be able to continue to undertake regulated building control activities.

This change will come as a welcome relief to the industry who were concerned that the processing of applications would grind to a halt. The BSR has, however, been firm in its indications that this will be the only extension granted. It is therefore to be hoped that the additional time will allow a sufficient number of further inspectors to meet the certification requirements.

Leave to appeal granted in URS Corporation Ltd v BDW Trading Ltd

Those of you who regularly read these updates will recall my Bob Dylan themed coverage of the decision in his matter from July 2023. However, as a summary, the Court of Appeal held that:

  • BDW, as the party instructing the development of the tower blocks could simultaneously owe and be owed duties under the Defective Premises Act 1972;
  • The provisions of s135 the BSA which extended the period for historic claims to be brought to 30 years were relevant in the present case notwithstanding that BDW had brought their claim before the provisions came into effect.
  • The Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978, which allows a party to recover sums from others who are liable for the same damage, was applicable in the present case despite the fact that when BDW incurred costs (the "damage"), no claims against it had been intimated.

The Supreme Court have now granted URS leave to appeal this matter. It is expected that the Supreme Court will hear the matter in December, before a panel of seven judges. This will be the first BSA related case to be heard by the Supreme Court and should provide clear guidance on a number of the key principles which the legislation sets out.

For further information on matters relating to the Building Safety Act please see our Building & Fire Safety Hub.


Eric Johnstone

Legal Director

Louise Shiels

Head of Dispute Resolution and Risk & Partner