“Construction Law in 2020: key legal and industry developments” by Mathias Cheung

16th Mar 2021

“Construction Law in 2020:key legal and industry developments” by Mathias Cheung summarises some of the key legal and industry developments in construction law in 2020, both in the UK and abroad.

Copies of Construction Law in 2020: key legal and industry developments are available to download from the i-law website.

Construction law in 2020: key legal and industry developments – Introduction
By Mathias Cheung

This article summarises some of the key legal and industry developments in construction law in 2020, both in the UK and abroad. The past year has been universally challenging due to the widespread disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and on top of the usual diet of cases dealing with typical construction law issues, the courts have had the occasion to consider the impact of the coronavirus in a few interesting decisions. It is expected that the legal and construction industries will have to grapple with the continuing impact of the coronavirus in the year ahead.

In such times of flux, the common law and its many well-established principles can step in to provide a degree of legal certainty, but at the same time, there is a danger of excessive legalism leading to results which were plainly not contemplated or intended when those principles were first laid down. A careful balance needs to be struck, so that legal certainty is maintained with an eye on the ability of the common law as a “living creature” to adapt to changing circumstances.

In many respects, the proliferation of case law in the courts in the UK and abroad over the past year represents that balance – on the one hand, recurrent themes in construction law and commercial transactions more generally continued to be dealt with based on well-established principles in the usual way, but on the other, the courts have adopted novel procedures to accommodate remote working and expedite urgent cases which can provide businesses with much-needed guidance on the interpretation of instruments in light of Covid-19.

In the Queen’s Christmas Day message, Her Majesty reminded us that “even on the darkest nights there is hope in the new dawn”. Above all, it is important to keep things in perspective and stay rooted in the many things which remain constant, even in a world of chaos. It is hoped that this annual overview of the key legal developments across different jurisdictions can help provide an element of certainty in this time of change, as we look at the consistent development of the legal landscape for the construction and infrastructure industries.

Contents include

  • Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Operation of construction sites
    • Frustration
    • Force Majeure
    • Dispute resolution in the age of Covid-19
  • Developments in payment disputes and adjudications
    • Payment disputes
    • Stay of execution for “smash and grab” decisions
    • Enforceability of declarations as to valuation
    • Construction operations under the HGCRA
    • Jurisdictional challenges
    • Breach of natural justice
    • Fraud
  • Insolvency
    • Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020
    • Insolvency and adjudication
  • Interpretation of contracts
    • Assignment of subcontracts
    • Limitation of liability
    • Implied terms of good faith
    • Contractual obligations to design life
    • Interpretation of performance bonds
  • Professional Negligence
  • Arbitration law
  • Global perspectives in dispute resolution
    • Hong Kong
    • Singapore
    • Middle East


See also (by Mathias Cheung):

Review of Construction Law 2019

Review of Construction Law 2018 

Review of Construction Law 2017


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