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Second Act Problems: The Defective Premises Act 1972 in the New Building Safety Regime

Paper number

Lars Gladhaug

June 2023

A paper based on the winning entry in the Hudson Prize essay competition 2022 and presented to the Society of Construction Law on 7th June 2023

The paper looks at the Defective Premises Act 1972 which has now been rehabilitated by the Building Safety Act 2022. In particular the paper looks at s.135 of the BSA which has the effect of retrospectively extending the limitation period for actions under s.1(1) of the DPA from 6 years to 30 years, thereby making actionable many statute-barred claims. The author asks: can a commercial developer of residential homes be owed a duty under s.1(1)(a) of the DPA? He sets out the origins of the Act and early case law and goes on to look in detail at the provisions of the DPA and Parliament’s intentions behind them, concluding that a developer might be owed such a duty and that early judicial clarification may be justified.

A. Introduction – B. A brief history of the Defective Premises Act – (i) Legislative origins – (ii) Adding flesh and blood: the early case-law – C. Is a developer owed a duty under s.1(1)(a) DPA? – (i) No previous authority – (ii) The English law on statutory interpretation – (iii) Is there any ambiguity in s.1(1)(a) DPA? – (iv) Is that interpretation inconsistent with other provisions of the DPA? – (v) Is it inconsistent with the underlying policy of the DPA – (vi) BDW Trading Ltd v URS Corporation Ltd – D. Conclusions
The author: Lars Gladhaug is a pupil barrister practising from Keating Chambers

Text: 12 pages