Construction lawyers may be required to comply with an ethical code to be recommended in a report later this month

A group from the Society of Construction Law met this week to discuss the findings of its research, and will publish draft proposals in attempt to address concerns over alleged unethical conduct.

Particular concern was raised during the year-long inquiry over the use of “ambush” tactics in adjudication, whereby one party attempts to disadvantage the other by introducing surprise new material at a late stage.

Professor John Uff QC, who raised concerns about this issue last year, said: “There is a clear ethical issue over whether such tactics are acceptable when the quality of the adjudicator’s decision may be impaired.”

SCL member Peter Higgins, who chaired the inquiry, said: "We want to reach a point where individuals recognise that by not adhering to our guidelines they are going against their organisations' professional codes of conduct".

The decision to set up the inquiry followed a speech given by Uff at King's College London when he said ethical rules were required. The SCL was asked to investigate as it is made up of lawyers and non-lawyers.

There is a clear ethical issue over ambush tactics when the quality of the adjudicator's decision may be impaired

Professor John Uff, consultant on SCL inquiry

John Burgess, another member of the SCL ethical group, said: "The society was the ideal choice to explore the state of ethics in construction law. It is a neutral player with no overriding vested interests.

"Professor Uff effectively laid down a challenge. He implied at the time that a code was a likely outcome of such research.”

The SCL working group was made up of 46 members. SCL president Sir Philip Otton and Uff acted as consultants.