The implications of the Grenfell Tower disaster are obviously going to be felt in construction for years to come, and the inquiries, possible criminal prosecutions and civil actions will be capturing headlines outside the industry for a long time.
The Financial Times held its first Future of Construction Summit in May, a well-attended event at ICE headquarters in Great George Street. The sub-heading was ‘Driving productivity through disruptive innovation and collaboration’, areas where the industry is widely agreed to be lagging.
Construction of what is billed as the world’s most advanced passenger railway and the backbone of the UK’s rail network – the HS2 London to Birmingham line – already looks like being bedevilled by the same lack of attention to procurement processes as other large scale UK projects.
Commercial excellence is to be the ‘new normal’ in public sector procurement, Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, has said in a blog on the civil service website.
Private finance type contracts came under harsh scrutiny by the inquiry into the buildings defects that led to the collapse of a school wall in Edinburgh in April 2016.
A Green Paper for the first UK government industrial strategy for many years has been released for consultation, but receiving a lukewarm response from industry generally.
Arbitration is the least heard of dispute resolution method, although it is the preferred method when many large scale projects go wrong, either technically or commercially. Confidentiality goes hand in hand with arbitrations of course, so little is heard of their outcomes.
Arbitration rarely makes headlines, which is part of the reason for using it as a dispute resolution method. Things haven’t been as quiet as normal in recent months though.
Guest editor Martin Burns, Head of ADR Research and Development at RICS, sees a renewed appetite for arbitration, as a middle ground between long drawn out litigation and high speed adjudication. An improved version of what went before won’t be enough to cope with modern demands so new ground must be broken, he argues.