What should I do if contractor insolvency occurs?
In the event that the worst happens and contractor insolvency occurs, there are a number of steps which the employer should take immediately:
- Confirm that insolvency has actually occurred and the type of insolvency (for example liquidation or adjudication) – actions taken based on rumours can have adverse consequences
- Secure the site and carry out an audit of the plant, equipment and materials present – this may extend to changing the locks on site in order to prevent overzealous contractors and sub-contractors seeking to return and take what they see as their possessions. The building contract may contain a provision that these are the employer’s property, but they can be difficult to recover if they are not within the employer’s possession – possession is 9/10ths of the law!
- Ensure that there are adequate insurance and health and safety arrangements in place for the site – these would usually be dealt with by the contractor and therefore may no longer be in place, so alternative arrangements may be required
- Ensure that any further payments to the contractor are stopped pending a more detailed review
- Consider whether any off-site materials have already been paid for and can be secured. This can however be difficult in practice where the materials are not physically within the employer’s possession
In addition, there are also a number of further actions which the employer should consider in the slightly longer term:
- Investigate the options available and ascertain the cost of completing the works to assist in deciding how best to proceed
- Consider whether termination of the contractor’s employment under the building contract is required, and if so take the necessary steps in accordance with the building contract
- Consider whether there are any bonds or guarantees in place upon which the employer can rely, and if so assess their terms as to whether and how to make a claim
- Make arrangements to complete the works – as a general rule of thumb the cost of completing the works may increase by around 30% if it is necessary to get a replacement contractor
- Consider whether direct payment to subcontractors is possible or desirable
- Although we would say this(!) we would strongly recommend taking legal advice, as insolvency and its implications are complex and it is easy to inadvertently fall foul of the various different requirements
As the pandemic progresses, more and more people will be forced to self-isolate and, inevitably, both tenants and staff will be affected. Put plans in place to mitigate the impact that this may have, particularly regarding staff shortages. The most important focus here should be communication.
The Covid-19 outbreak will affect the pace of everyday life and delays will be expected. Rather than allowing the pandemic to take over completely, it is important to maintain open communication with tenants as much as possible and inform them of any front-facing challenges that you may face.
The Protocol does envisage that delays may occur and allows for some degree of flexibility. Whilst all efforts should be made to conduct inspections where practical and possible, it should be expected by all parties that timescales will be extended during this crisis. It is fundamental, however, that all changes made to standard practice are communicated and explained to tenants to manage expectations.
Similar flexibility should be afforded to tenants. As households are required to isolate it will not always be possible to gain access to properties as would usually be expected and required. Likewise, vulnerable people will wish to protect themselves and their families and may refuse access on this basis. During this period, a degree of understanding must be exercised and concessions made.
Inspections may be delayed if anyone in the household has symptoms. A questionnaire should be prepared for those visiting properties to assess so far as possible the risk; Personal Protective Equipment should be issued to those visiting, and government guidelines followed.Read more about this
The golden thread requirements will be retrospective, so will apply to existing buildings as well as new build. This is part of the reason for the Building Safety Regulator’s ‘get to know your building’ guidance referred to in the talk, with the link in the Powerpoint presentation. While the details of the golden thread requirement are still to be confirmed, now is a good time to start to gather as much information as can be obtained about existing buildings as possible in preparation. The Government guidance anticipates that the Principal Accountable Person will be responsible for developing and coordinating the golden thread for existing buildings.Read more about this
Where a lender requires a EWS1 as part of the mortgage requirements for a flat this will apply regardless of its tenure and will therefore apply to applicable RTB properties. It may also be required in order to obtain a valuation for the disposal notices and issues in obtaining it could cause problems in serving this within relevant deadlines required by legislation.Read more about this
Employers had the ability to furlough extremely vulnerable employees who needed to shield.
If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, including as a result of track and trace, they’ll be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, subject to other eligibility conditions applying.
There is no special exemption for them, so they would need to meet the usual requirements to be placed on Flexible Furlough after 1 July 2020. i.e. They had to have been placed on furlough for at least 3 weeks before 1 July. Otherwise, they could not be furloughed.Read more about this
Damien Charlton, Julie Huntingdon and Chris Hugill look at the SRA Standards and Regulations (STaRS) for solicitors which came into effect late 2019, and represented a whole new regulatory landscape for the legal profession. The enhanced reporting and transparency obligations have an important impact on in-house practice, so this webinar gives you the opportunity to reflect on how the new rules impact on in-house lawyers, in both your professional and personal lives.
This webinar is part of a series designed for in-house lawyers. If you would like to register to receive invitations to future events for in-house legal counsel, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.Read more about this