Building and fire safety law

The firm has been proactive to achieve the best possible outcomes in often difficult and complex situations.

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Building and fire safety law has long been a key issue for those in the property and construction sectors. However, it came even more to the fore following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017, which led to a review and major reform of established building and fire safety practices, culminating in the Building Safety Act 2022.

Penningtons Manches Cooper has a substantial track record of providing advice on the full range of building and fire safety issues and disputes across construction, development and landlord and tenant matters, including specialist guidance on remediation measures, regulation and building safety law compliance. 

Where the worst has happened, we have seasoned experts who can act quickly and effectively. Our building and fire safety lawyers were appointed to advise on the high-profile fires at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea in 2008 and Lakanal House in Southwark in 2009, as well as Grenfell Tower. We also have expertise in insurance coverage issues in relation to building safety defects and related losses.

Since June 2017, the rate of change in building and fire safety law has been rapid. After advice was provided to the government in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, widespread recommendations were proposed with the aims of improving building and fire safety and protecting leaseholders from the costs associated with making those improvements.  

Following the grant of royal assent to the Building Safety Act in April 2022, there have been many amendments to the law governing building and fire safety and additional detail provided in secondary legislation. Yet further changes are proposed in the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act which became law in May 2024 as one of the last pieces of legislation to pass through Parliament before the July 2024 general election.  

In recent years, our specialist lawyers have assisted numerous clients on reviewing their property portfolios, ascertaining the extent of exposure, adopting clear strategies, and carefully recording their decision-making processes to help ensure that they are complying with the full range of building and fire safety requirements.

We act for owners (including institutional investors), developers, vendors, contractors, the original design team, and insurers, offering broad technical knowledge alongside extensive practical experience. Our building and fire safety lawyers also have expertise in the management and implementation of remedial measures to ensure compliance with the relevant building regulations and have acted on multiple cladding remedial programmes, many well in excess of £10 million.

We offer expert advice on:

  • building safety defects, including both fire safety defects and substantial latent structural issues
  • the government’s ‘developer self-remediation contract’ and the procurement and negotiation of works agreements for affected properties
  • construction documents for fire safety and structural remedial works where recourse to the original developer is not feasible
  • the new legal vehicle of building liability orders introduced by the Building Safety Act and their use in resolving building safety defects
  • insurance coverage in respect of building and fire safety matters, including for external wall construction
  • identifying the appropriate principal accountable person (PAP) and taking action where the PAP has failed to register a higher-risk building
  • portfolio management, remediation measures, regulation and fire safety law compliance
  • exit opportunities under acquisition contracts and agreements for lease resulting from building safety issues
  • recoverability via service charges, including dispensation from the section 20 consultation process
  • the correct approach to measurement of building height to determine higher risk buildings
  • procurement of works under the government’s Building Safety Fund

Recent work highlights

Action on improvement notices

Representing institutional investors and housing associations on applications to appeal or challenge improvement notices relating to essential fire safety works which had been served on them by their local authority under the Housing Act 2004. Our specialists carefully considered the legal liability and provided a strategy to avoid time-consuming proceedings.

Resolution of building safety defects

Advising a global property investor client on potential claims across a total of 60 developments affected with some form of fire safety or major structural defects. We successfully pursued those responsible for the defects, achieving early settlements and also negotiating works agreements, often pursuant to the government’s developer self-remediation contract.

Cladding insurance coverage advice

Undertaking coverage investigations for insurer clients in respect of a range of high value cladding and other external wall fire safety claims against their insured design and build contractor.

Related expertise

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP