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Published On: 23 June 2016

Tough New Health & Safety Sentencing Guideline in force 

The new "Definitive Guideline for Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety & Hygiene Offences" has now come into force and will apply to all cases sentenced on or after 1 February 2016, irrespective of when an offence was committed. The Guideline will mean higher penalties particularly for large organisations committing serious offences. As an illustration of the level of fines that can now be expected, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions was fined £2.6 million in May following the death of a worker in a trench collapse.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

From 4 April 2016, Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) became mandatory on centrally procured government projects. BIM involves the creation of a digital model of the building, which is then used by the design team, the construction team and finally the building owner to manage the building through its life.  At Level 2, the participants develop their own separate models which are then shared with the project model.  Although there are concerns about cyber exposure, the use of Level 2 BIM is not generally causing insurers any major concerns and should reduce claims relating to design and delay.

The government is committed to moving towards BIM Level 3.  As this will require fully collaborative working using a single shared model, it brings with it a completely different risk profile.  Single project insurance may be the answer.

Government Construction Strategy 2016-20

The government published its Government Construction Strategy: 2016-2020 in March 2016.  Its objectives include:

  • Improving central government’s capability as a construction client;
  • Embedding and increasing the use of digital technology, including Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2;
  • Adopting collaborative procurement techniques that enable early contractor and supply chain involvement;
  • Developing skills capacity and capability, including delivering 20,000 apprenticeships through central government procurement; 
  • Promoting fair payment; and
  • Encouraging whole-life approaches to cost and carbon reduction across the construction, operation and maintenance of public sector buildings and infrastructure.

Standard Form Contracts

The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) has announced that it intends to publish 2016 editions of its suite of contracts with the Minor Works family of contracts being the first available at the end of June 2016.  The last main revision of the contracts was in 2011.  The changes will include incorporating provisions from the JCT Public Sector Supplement relating to fair payment, transparency and BIM into the JCT contracts as a whole.  The contracts will be updated to take into account the 2015 CDM Regulations 2015 and the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.  There will also apparently be a number of changes to the payment provisions.  The insurance provisions are also to be amended.  Insurance Option C is to be extended to allow alternative solutions to the problems encountered by tenants and domestic homeowners in obtaining existing structures cover for contractors and the generic provisions will be consolidated.