Keeping up with the coronavirus legislation for construction

Peter Hibberd BW 2017

Since February the government has placed a series of constantly changing new legal requirements on the building industry – so don’t get caught out

The coronavirus impacts upon industries in different ways and the construction industry is not alone in struggling to get to grips with what it can and cannot do: not knowing whether to stop work or carry on. Many factors come to bear, including the different legal requirements of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although the requirements flow from UK legislation, the use of devolved powers means implementation varies across the countries of the union.

Governmental and consequential action concerning the coronavirus is both extensive and shifting; this requires the construction industry to review daily and respond accordingly to government updates. Although the contractual situation (on JCT contracts, for more information see here) is of concern, the primary consideration must be the health and safety of the workforce and general public. Even before the pandemic, contractors and clients had obligations in this respect – under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, for instance – notwithstanding their respective contractual obligations. Now they must also take account of the government’s response to the coronavirus, which includes:

  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations (No. 129) – 10 February 2020
  • The Coronavirus Act 2020 – 25 March 2020
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations (No. 350) – 26 March 2020, which revoked Regulations (No. 327) issued three days earlier (which illustrates the speed of developments).

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