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Legal 16 www.thefis.org Barrister, Professor Rudi Klein, considers the implications of the new statutory limitation periods under the Building Safety Act 2022 for FIS members. THE NEWLIMITATION PERIODS UNDER THE BUILDING SAFETY ACT 2022 The Building Safety Act 2022 The Building Safety Act came into force on 28 April this year. It has ushered in a statutory framework for building safety, which has now become extremely complex with rafts of regulations, statutory guidance, and government factsheets. But the issue which has caught the attention of the industry is the extended limitation periods that came into force on 28 June 2022. Limitation periods The Limitation Act 1980 is the governing legislation. Limitation periods are designed to restrict the periods in which legal claims can be brought. This is to avoid stale claims and encourage claimants to act with expedition in pursuing their rights. So, for example, a claimant will have six years – from the date of the breach to bring a claim for breach of contract; the timescale is doubled where contracts are under seal. Defective Premises Act 1972 Section 1 of the Defective Premises Act imposes certain duties on builders (including subcontractors) carrying out work in connection with the provision of a dwelling. The work, which will include any design, must be carried out in a workmanlike or professional manner and proper materials must be used to ensure that, when complete, the dwelling is fit for human habitation. Claims can be brought by existing and subsequent freehold or leasehold occupiers of the dwelling. A court case in 2014 gave a fairly wide definition of ‘fitness for human habitation’. The dwelling must be capable of occupation without risk to the health and safety of its occupants or ‘without undue inconvenience or discomfort to the occupiers.’ The Building Safety Act has now expanded the fitness for human habitation duty to include works other than the provision of a dwelling, that is, works on existing dwellings. The limitation period for claims under the Defective Premises Act was six years from the date of completion of the works. The Building Safety Act has now extended this to a whopping 30 years! There’s more bad news to come. The new limitation period will apply retrospectively. Therefore claims can be made from as far back as June 1992! As to the future work (carried out after 28 June) the limitation period will be 15 years. With regards to the expanded scope of the Defective Premises Act – work on existing dwellings – the limitation period will be 15 years applicable to work carried out on or after 28 June this year. Building Act 1984 Section 38, Building Act 1984, has been activated by the Building Safety Act after almost 40 years. Lying dormant on the statute books, Section 38 applies to all buildings in England and Wales. It enables anyone who has incurred any physical harm as a result of a failure to comply with building regulations will have a claim for damages. Such claim will include personal injury, including any adverse impact on mental health, and any consequent financial loss. The limitation for such claims is 15 years from completion of the works and will apply prospectively. Building liability orders The Building Safety Act has introduced Building liability orders to deal with situations where a ‘shell’ company has liability under section 38 Building Act or under the Defective Premises Act. The High Rudi Klein

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