April 15, 2015

Contracts soar in first quarter

The UK construction industry has made a flying start to 2015, with new figures showing that contract awards in the first quarter were 47 per cent up on the same period last year.

The Construction Index website reported on 2 April that according to the latest figures from the Builders’ Conference, which provides tender information, contract award notices and other market intelligence for the sector, contract awards broke the £6 billion barrier in March, to a level 63 per cent higher than in March 2014.

The Builders’ Conference said that 14 contractors each secured orders worth more than £100 million in March, with Laing O’Rourke leading the way with five major contracts worth a total of £713 million.

Builders’ Conference chief executive Neil Edwards said: “Received wisdom is that in the run up to a general election, the UK construction industry goes into a voluntary stasis, battens down the hatches, sits on its hands and waits for Westminster to sound the all-clear signal. This time around, however, it appears that the industry didn’t get the ‘sit on your hands’ memo.”

Meanwhile, the latest Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index, also published on 2 April, revealed that 57 per cent of those surveyed forecast a rise in output in 2015, with only three per cent anticipating a fall, producing the highest level of construction sector optimism since February 2006.

CIPS chief executive David Noble said: “Though there may be some low-level obstacles still to come…there is evidently belief that the future for the construction sector is a sustainable one.”

Upbeat statistics like these suggest that the recovery in the construction sector is now firmly established. Firms that have access to expert construction legal advice will give themselves a commercial advantage as new business opportunities arise.

At Palmers, we can advise on construction contracts and other documentation, including JCT, NEC and standard contracts, as well as preparing bespoke contracts. 

If disputes do arise, we can assist with arbitration, adjudication or mediation and provide representation in the County and Technology and Construction Courts, if required. Our expertise also includes technical issues such as Party Wall Act matters and planning disputes and our clients also benefit from access to other legal specialists, in areas including commercial matters, employment and health and safety.

For more information on our construction services, please contact Adam Davis.