The headline news from the most recent Arcadis survey of global disputes is that the sums involved in disputes have more than doubled but the number of disputes has stayed about the same. Disputes are being resolved faster at an average of 13 months compared to 15 last year, and the UK is maintaining its lead in speedy dispute resolution, taking only 10 months on average.
The Times gave more space to construction and its problems in a series spread over three days in May than the industry has probably ever received at one go from a national newspaper. None of it was good.
A great divide exists between those who take proactive action to prevent undesirable events and those who just muddle along and wait until the bad thing happens before belatedly doing anything about it.
One thing that can be confidently said about the newly announced National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) is that it won’t be funding very much of the procurement of the UK’s national infrastructure.
Insurance has never felt cheap to companies in the construction sector, although many or most of them never took the sort of risk management measures highlighted in our regular insurance articles, so to a large extent often had only themselves to blame if they were paying higher premiums than they need have.
Much, if not all, of 2021 will be spent dealing with the fall out of the Covid-19 pandemic, and hopefully learning from the way the UK mobilised its central government procurement systems to combat it. There is much to learn.
The UK’s poor procurement practices are highlighted yet again by the news that the £19bn Crossrail project can’t be completed with the money available to the project. Crossrail should have opened in December 2018 but is currently hoped to be completed by the first half of 2022.
The Cabinet Office has announced new measures to deliver social value through public procurement in ‘Taking Account of Social Value in the Award of Central Government Contracts’.
Scotland famously enjoys its own legal system, separate from that of the rest of the UK. Although in commercial law there may be little of major difference between decisions made under Scots law and those that might be reached in England, the principle of a separate and distinct legal system is important to the devolved nation, as it has been to Scotland since the Act of Union of 1707.
Seldom, if ever, have so many pressures been inflicted on construction at the same time as today. The unpredictable outcome of the UK negotiations to secure trade deals after the current EU deals expire at the end of the year would have been enough on its own to cause consternation in boardrooms across all industries, resulting in investment plans being at best postponed. A no deal Brexit looked like a short odds bet with less than six months to go, with an extension to the UK’s departure unlikely to be requested by a firmly pro Brexit Cabinet.