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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Industry experts reward construction’s finest

John Humphrys presenting award for The Shard for Your Expert Witness storyOn 1 October the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane hosted one of the most notable award ceremonies of the year. Around 900 construction industry leaders gathered to celebrate the 2013 British Construction Industry Awards.

The secretariat for the awards is provided by New Civil Engineer, whose editorial director Antony Oliver commented: “Once again the British Construction Industry Awards have demonstrated that quality design and construction remains central to public and private sector infrastructure clients' ambitions. As they strive to deliver better services to customers while reducing the cost of operating and maintaining assets, it is very clear that investment up front to improve the design and construction process pays massive dividends in the long run.”

There was a large number of entries and the competition was tough. The judges had the difficult task of deciding who would be walking away with the coveted awards. The rigorous judging process included a visit to every shortlisted entrant in the building and civil engineering project categories by members of the expert judging panel.

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 October 2013 13:29

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New advice service helps Natural England to gain service standard

Photo of a pipistrelle for Your Expert Witness storyIn August, Natural England was awarded the Cabinet Office Customer Service Excellence Standard. The standard tests an organisation against 57 components, with a particular focus on delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism, staff attitudes and customer insight.

Natural England is a statutory consultee on environmental assessment processes and many development proposals, including that of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and the transport network. It is also a statutory consultee on Development Plans, Local Development Frameworks, Neighbourhood Development Plans and Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.

The agency has recently introduced new and improved services to provide non-statutory advice related to planning proposals, supported by the introduction of charges.

The service aims to give developers the chance to tap into the expertise of case officers and wildlife advisers who will be able to highlight potential environmental impacts at an early stage and provide advice on possible solutions, potentially saving time and money in the planning process while also securing good outcomes for the natural environment.

Pre-application advice for planning proposals

Known as the Discretionary Advice Service (DAS), it is geared towards cases with the potential for significant impact on protected sites, landscapes and species, or which could bring environmental gain. An initial level of advice is offered free of charge to help identify key issues and opportunities on a development proposal. The customer would then have the option of paying for further access to Natural England’s expert advice to help in the development of their proposals.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:56

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Asbestos fear for mother as council takes 18 months to fix roof

picture of asbestos coating for Your Expert Witness storyA report in a Gloucestershire newspaper regarding a council tenant who had to wait 18 months for the council to mend her roof, despite the fact that she feared the presence of asbestos would cause health problems for her children, has prompted a comment from a law firm that specialises in asbestos claims.

The case was reported in the Gazette Series of titles and concerned a council house in Stroud which had developed a leaky roof in 2011. The young woman who had lived there with her two children since 2009 reported the matter, and was concerned that the asbestos in the ceiling may have been disturbed by the crumbling of the ceiling, which in turn was caused by a leaking roof.

She was quoted in the local Gazette as saying: “When I first moved into the property I was told by the council that there was some asbestos in the ceiling but unless it was damaged it was at a safe level. This obviously all changed when the ceiling in my hallway started to crumble away because of the damp.”

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 August 2013 13:23

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Construction professionals head for seminars in Leeds

Picture of Philip Morrison of Shulmans LLP for Your Expert witness storyTwo seminars on issues related to construction law are being held in association with the RICS Quantity Surveying and Construction Group in Leeds in November. Both will be led by construction law expert Philip Morrison of Shulmans LLP (pictured).

The first, taking place on 7 November, will be an update on construction law and will provide an update on recent changes in legislation that affect the industry.

Trends will be examined to ascertain if the courts are following a pattern or particular line of thought. The seminar will also look at the areas where it is likely that there will be changes to the law by government and/or the courts.

According to the RICS, the area of construction and the relevant law can to be subject to constant change and review, so attending the event is an ideal opportunity for contractor and private practice professionals and experts to keep up to date with this ever changing subject.

One area where change is on the way is in the implementation of building information management, or BIM, and the Legal and Contractual Implications of BIM will be the subject of Phil Morrison second seminar, which will take place on 21 November.

In the announcement of the seminar the RICS states: “You may be aware that BIM is being imposed on the industry by Government in order to drive down costs and increase efficiency. So what does it mean in relation to the contracts and law that you have in place now?”

At the seminar Phil will explore the legal and contractual implications of BIM and how these are incorporated into the current legal framework of the construction industry. He will also look at the likely areas where BIM will create an impact, and the changes that will be necessary. The event provides an ideal opportunity for all property professionals, especially those with a design or specification responsibility.

Phil Morrison is a solicitor with Leeds-based Shulmans LLP, who has over 16 years of legal experience relating to the construction industry and providing contractual advice on construction matters. His extensive knowledge of construction-related matters includes disputes involving adjudication, arbitration, mediation and court procedure.

The RICS website contains a case study of the implementation of 4D BIM at New South Glasgow Hospitals. 4D BIM is a development from traditional 3D modelling that enables more precise control of the construction process. The latest manifestation of BIM modelling is styled ‘5D BIM’ and includes cost controls.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 15:26

RICS expert accreditation service launched

For the first time, expert witnesses in built environment matters are going to be assessed and regulated by the sector’s leading professional body: RICS.

The institution has launched its new international Expert Witness Accreditation Service (EWAS) for the built environment sector. EWAS, which is open to all property professionals, is intended to raise quality and standards in a sector that has not previously been subject to professional regulation.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 14:23

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