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In a situation where a building has a B1 EWS1 rating but the insurance companies are either refusing to quote or saying the cladding is a fire risk (due to the result of the intrusive survey for the EWS1 rating) and quadrupling insurance premium, is there anything that will help with this situation in the Building Safety Act or the secondary regulations when they come in or do you think it is something case law will have to address?

The amount an insurer charges for providing cover is a critical aspect of the underwriting process. The premium must be sufficient to cover expected claims but must also take into account the possibility that the insurer will have to access its capital reserve –it is risk assessment based and the greater the risk, the higher the premium. Historically, insurers of high-rise buildings would have only had to prepare for a loss caused by damage to just a few flats within a building. That is because the design and construction of that building, with the right materials and fire safety provisions in place, should have limited the spread of fire and allowed the damage to be contained –or at least make this an extremely low risk. Now we know that many buildings have been designed, built and signed off in a regulatory system that an independent Government review has found was not fit for purpose. Premiums will reduce overtime but will be dependent upon the perceived level of risk reducing as the regulatory regime, BSA and BSR become more established.

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What challenges to planning permission does the current lockdown situation present?
  • Delays in preparing and submitting applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions. In this respect there can be lengthy timescales gathering evidence to support applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions, ecology, contamination and archaeology are examples of matters which can require significant periods of survey work
  • Following on from the above the ability to get required experts on the site necessary to undertake the required survey work
  • Delays in the determination of applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions. In this respect whilst there are deemed discharge provisions/procedures concerning certain matters, the provisions cannot be used to discharge all types of conditions
  • The ability to get people on site to undertake material operations

In the circumstances, it is advisable to start considering the implementation of the planning permission early and the earlier the better. Under current legislation whilst it is possible to vary conditions, albeit potentially leading to wider issues, it is not possible to extend the life of a planning permission meaning that lawful implementation is essential to avoid the loss of that permission.

If a planning permission is lost, amongst other things it may not be granted again or may not be granted on similar terms. In the circumstances, it is advisable to seek advice given the specific facts of the case to minimise the risk of a planning permission not being lawfully implemented and expiring.

What guidance has the Government given in relation to contracts in relation to Covid-19?

On 7 May the Government published guidance on how contracting parties can act responsibly in order to assist the effort to deal with Covid-19. The guidance seeks to persuade contracting parties to act reasonably and recognise the impact of Covid-19 on contractual counterparties. This will continue to be relevant as business begins to emerge from lockdown.

VIDEO EXPLAINER: Removing healthcare workers from the front line – the dos and don'ts

Specialist healthcare lawyers from Ward Hadaway ran a free webinar looking at the practical and legal considerations if required to treat healthcare workers from a BAME background or other vulnerable groups differently in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Will I have to go to court?

The vast majority of disputes settle without ever reaching a final hearing with something in the region of 2-5% of all cases actually ending up in court at a final trial.  So whilst it is very unlikely you would need to attend a court hearing, it is always a possibility.

How do you ensure clinical governance around MHFAs?

MHFAs are not qualified mental health medical professionals and they should not be diagnosing or giving medical advice, however, their training will equip them to provide initial support to those experiencing symptoms of mental ill health, and to signpost to further professional help when needed. The MHFA training makes the boundaries of the MHFA role very clear and there should be clearly defined role specifications, procedures and support pathways in place to ensure that individuals are referred on appropriately. There should be peer support in place for MHFAs and a system in place to ensure no individual or individuals are overloaded.