Fire safety law has long been a key issue for those in the property and construction sectors. However, it has come even more to the fore following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017, with major reform and review of established practices.
Penningtons Manches Cooper has a substantial track record in providing advice on the full range of fire safety issues and disputes across construction, development and landlord and tenant matters, including specialist guidance on remediation measures, regulation and fire safety law compliance. Our lawyers predominantly advise registered providers, landlords and owner occupiers on their rights and obligations, covering liabilities, statutory obligations and best practice on existing and new schemes and remedial works.
Where the worst has happened, we have seasoned experts in dealing with fire cases, including the high profile fires at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea in 2008, Lakanal House in Southwark in 2009 and Grenfell Tower. Our fire safety lawyers also have expertise in insurance coverage in relation to fire damage and compliance with fire safety legislation.
Since June 2017, the rate of change in fire safety law has been rapid. In January 2020, advice from the Expert Panel (established by the Government in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire) was published. This clarified and updated earlier advice to building owners on actions they should take to ensure their buildings are safe, with a focus on external wall systems (cladding). Further developments have and will continue to follow and, notwithstanding Covid-19, this remains a cross party political priority.
Landlords, management companies and leaseholders need to be alive to these changes and to act immediately in light of new guidance, including reviewing the terms on which they contract for works to be undertaken. The boards of institutional landlords, housing associations and others will need to review their property portfolios, ascertain the extent of exposure, adopt clear strategies and carefully record their decision making process.
Those involved in design and construction face increasing demands on their skill and expertise and challenges in securing insurance cover. We can assist with engaging fire safety experts, risk management and providing legal advice on claims.
Our fire safety lawyers' pedigree and broad technical knowledge is complemented by their extensive practical experience acting for and against developers, insurers, vendors, contractors and the original design team, including architects. We also have expertise in the management and implementation of remedial measures to ensure compliance with the relevant building regulations and are currently acting on multiple cladding remedial programmes, many in excess of £10 million.
Successfully acting for a London-based housing association to recover £18 million from a national house builder, initially over the use of ACM cladding on several developments and then, separately, over a range of other fire stopping defects.
Providing guidance on insurance coverage in respect of fire safety and external wall construction, including. advising on liability issues, scope of cover, mitigation costs, cladding exclusions, design versus workmanship and aggregation.