Reed Smith Client Alerts

Key takeaways

  • The Court of Appeal has provided guidance on the retrospective application of the 30 year limitation period brought in by the Building Safety Act 2022 applicable to section 1 Defective Premises Act 1972 and found duties are owed to developers under that provision.
  • Construction professionals may be facing wide-ranging claims from developers under the DPA including claims that were previously out of time.
  • The decision is due for review by the Supreme Court in December when the scope of construction professionals' duties of care and interpretation of the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 are also due to be considered.

Under section 1(1) of the DPA, a person taking on work for or in connection with the provision of a dwelling in England or Wales, whether as a new build, conversion or enlargement of a building, has a duty to carry out that work in a workmanlike or professional manner (as applicable), with proper materials, so that the dwelling will be fit for habitation when completed.

The duty is owed by that person to the party who has instructed them to carry out the work and to every person who acquires an interest (whether legal or equitable) in the dwelling.

If the duty is breached, the party to whom it is owed used to have six years from the date a right of action accrued to bring a claim against the party who had breached the duty.

That changed when section 135 of the Building Safety Act 2022 came into force. The party entitled to bring the claim now has 30 years from the date the right of action accrued to do so where the right of action accrued prior to 28 June 2022, and 15 years where the right of action accrued on or after that date. The 30 year limitation also applies where the time for bringing a claim would otherwise have expired during the 12 months from 28 June 2022.