Defective Premises Law: Time for Remedial Works?

Accessing papers

If you are logged in as a member or a registered academic, you will see a link to download the paper for FREE. The link is just above the Add to Cart button.

If you wish to purchase the paper, you must be logged in first (click here to log in, or click here to register). You will then see the Add to Cart button. You may also have a choice of preferred format if both are available - PDF download costs £3 inc VAT, printed version costs £7.50 inc postage (no VAT). Choosing one or the other changes the price displayed.

When you are ready to check out, use the 'View basket' link in the top left of the website.

David Johnson

June 2011

A paper based on the joint second prize entry in the Hudson Prize essay competition 2010 presenting to a meeting of the Society of Construction Law in London on 3rd May 2011

David Johnson looks at the history and usefulness of the Defective Premises Act 1972, against the background of developments of the law of tort in particular in Murphy v Brentwood and subsequent cases. The Act offers a statutory claim for damages for defects in dwellings: the right of action requires neither a contractual link between claimant and defendant nor the need to show a duty of care in negligence between them in relation to 'pure economic loss'. The paper considers the basis of liability and argues for two changes which would make the 1972 Act even more useful - clarifying the basis of liability and extending the present six year post-completion limitation period.

Introduction - The problem - Murphy: attempted solutions - The 'complex structure' theory - Establishing a 'special relationship' - Reactions to Murphy - Enter the Defective Premises Act - The content of the duty - What is a dwelling? - The standard of care required - Strict liability, but with a new defence? - The 1972 Act and limitation of actions - Conclusions.

David Johnson is a Pupil Barrister at Atkin Chambers, Gray's Inn, London.

Text 13 pages.

Paper number: 
169
June 2011, printed/online, 500k
£3.00

Our papers

The Society has published nearly 400 papers since 1984. Some are published both in hard copy and electronically (numbered), others in electronic format only (number prefixed 'D'). The hard copy papers can be purchased (except those marked with an asterisk which are no longer available). They are all also available as PDF files to download.

Those available as downloads can be accessed free by members and registered academics (students and staff) - if logged in, they will see a link to the file just above the Add to Cart button on each paper's page. Others can purchase the PDF file for a cost of £3.00. Note that this sum includes VAT, since VAT is chargeable on digital files.

For further instructions on downloading, click here. The PDF file will only open on your computer if you have Adobe Acrobat installed (to obtain a free copy, click here). To save the paper to your computer, choose the 'save' icon on the Acrobat toolbar before opening the paper.

For personal use only

The papers on this website are for use by SCL members (and those who pay for them) only, and papers may be downloaded, printed and/or otherwise retained for that purpose only by members of the SCL (and those who purchase them).  The availability of all papers past and present represents a significant benefit to members of SCL and wider dissemination of SCL papers dilutes that to the detriment of the membership.  Further and more importantly, copyright in the papers belongs jointly to the writers of the paper and to the SCL, and the SCL is not therefore in a position to provide any wider licence.  Accordingly the SCL asks members and those who purchase papers not to disseminate papers more widely than their licence allows (e.g. by posting them on internal legal resource intranet databases and the like). 

Feedback