June 2014 Archive

How much can you deduct for defective work?

A country house refurbishment has proved to be a useful reminder of cost risk in a defect scenario. Employer engaged contractor under a JCT Intermediate, but the same principle applies to the whole JCT suite, namely that where defects arise after practical completion, the contractor can be instructed not to make good but instead suffers an “appropriate deduction” from the Contract Sum. You will immediately anticipate the argument – how much is “appropriate”?

Mediation becomes compulsory for divorcing couples

In an effort to reduce the number of divorce cases ending up in court, the government started to encourage divorcing couples to use mediation as the first port of call. Since April 2011, any application to issue court proceedings was supposed to be accompanied by a form (FM1) that confirmed that mediation had been considered in all cases involving money and/or children. As it transpired, this requirement appeared to be largely ignored and court proceedings commenced regardless, with no obvious sanctions for non-compliance. Therefore, under the Family and Children Act 2013, attending an initial Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) (which is essentially an introduction to the mediation process, not the process itself) became mandatory in April 2014, except for cases where safety (primarily domestic violence and / or abuse) is an issue.

Letting commercial buildings with a poor energy efficiency rating after 2018

The Private Rented Sector Regulations, which will flow from the Energy Act 2011 (the “Act”), are intended to improve the energy efficiency in both residential and commercial buildings. Unfortunately these regulations are not yet published which, given that the Act has wide reaching implications for a large number of commercial properties, means that landlords will look to implement the spirit of the regulations without seeing the detail.

Changes to the planning regime: permitted development rights

From the outset of this Parliament, the Government has undertaken to streamline and simplify the planning regime and, as such, has made a number of changes in support of this commitment. Since May 2013 a number of permitted development rights (PDRs) have been introduced with the most recent tranche in April 2014. The planning system now rests on a three-tier system: permitted development rights for domestic and small scale changes; prior approval for developments requiring consideration of specific issues such as highways and flooding; and planning permission for larger scale developments which have a major impact on the surrounding area.

New planning guidance: light touch or lightweight?

In March 2014, the Government published the final version of its planning practice guidance, developed under the aegis of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The new guidance, published online within an easily navigable website, aims to simplify a system that was previously only really negotiable by experienced planning professionals. In the process of devising the new guidance, around 155 items of previous guidance, including circulars, guides and letters to chief planning officers, have been cancelled along with a number of key reference points including case law.
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