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Keith Blizzard – February Overview

As the Covid-19 situation continues to develop, further issues are arising and impacting upon the construction industry.

When the first lockdown was imposed, employers, main contractors and sub-contractors were very pragmatic. For a large number of projects, they agreed to close the site on the basis that the contractor was given more time, but agreed to not to charge, or to make a moderate charge, for the additional costs. With the benefit of hindsight, the sites that actually closed were only shut for a short period. Fortunately, that pragmatism has resulted in the industry avoiding disputes arising from the shutdown. However, it seems that people did not consider the continuing effects of the Covid-19 related measures to ‘on site’ productivity when they made their agreements and it is these disputes that are starting to come through.

The government has continually emphasised that the construction industry should keep working, but with additional measures to keep people safe and to minimise the risk of infection. These measures have not rendered construction projects impossible to complete, but they have delayed and disrupted construction works on site and supply chains have also been severely disrupted. Construction projects depend on the flow of materials, equipment and labour and any interruption in that supply chain can delay delivery and increase costs.

There appears to be a rise in the number of construction disputes due to disruption or loss of productivity claims, simply on the basis that, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, labour is less productive, and materials cannot be transported around sites efficiently. Consequently, the number of disputes arising from these causes need to be addressed in order to avoid the further costs arising from any form of formal dispute resolution.

Let us hope that, in true Constructing Excellence style, the pragmatic approach can be adopted again and parties can cooperate to resolve their issues.

The next big question will be, when will we see on the horizon the time when we can get back to normal or, at least, be at the new normal which must depend upon the vaccination programme.

In the meantime, on behalf of CE Midlands, please keep safe and well.

Keith Blizzard

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