“Construction Law in 2022: a review of key legal and industry developments” by Mathias Cheung summarises some of the key legal and industry developments in construction law in 2022, both in the UK and abroad.
This article summarises some of the key legal and industry developments in construction law in 2022 (both in the UK and abroad).1 For many in the UK, 2022 has been a welcome return to normality (in most respects) after living under the shadow of Covid-19 for two years, and the law has similarly made significant strides in the past 12 months, both in terms of legislation and case law.
It is hoped that this article provides a useful overview together with some food for thought in this fast-changing legal landscape.
The year 2022 has been one of challenges both old and new. As the world gradually recovers from the impact of Covid-19, inflation and mounting interest rates have become some of the latest issues to seize the headlines globally, while the armed conflict in Ukraine has brought about historic levels of forced displacement and supply chain disruption.
Amid all this commotion, one can perhaps take comfort in the fact that the steady hand of common law has continued to provide guidance and support to businesses and industries both here and abroad, with an ever-growing emphasis on commercial certainty – one of the most important pillars of the rule of law, which has long been the main attraction of the English legal system. In the Neill Law Lecture delivered at the University of Oxford in February 2022, Lord Reed considered the duality of “time present and time past”2 in the evolution of common law:
“It follows that the common law, far from being an abstract set of rules, is embedded in the history of our society, and also has a relationship with the legal systems of other societies. Far from being static, it is characterised by both continuity and change. … Ultimately, the courts are pragmatically concerned with what justice requires here and now; but any development of the common law in order to meet the needs of the present time has to remain faithful, at some level of generality, to principles derived from sources from the past. …”3
The interplay of past precedents with present and future problems is particularly pertinent in the construction, infrastructure and energy context, given the complexity and novelty of the issues and disputes which can arise on a daily basis in these industries. This incessant diet of disputes constantly pushes the law to grow and evolve in order to meet the challenges of the hour. The recent jurisprudence arising from cladding disputes after the Grenfell Tower tragedy (as well as Parliament’s intervention through the Building Safety Act 2022) provides an apt illustration.
This latest annual overview aims to shed light on the relevance of the past year’s judicial and legislative developments to present and future disputes in the construction, infrastructure and energy industries. This will hopefully be of value not only to those who are based in the UK, but also practitioners and stakeholders across other jurisdictions who face the same or analogous problems daily in their own field of work.
1 See also Cheung, M, Construction law in 2017: a review of key legal and industry developments; Cheung, M, Construction law in 2018: a review of key legal and industry developments; Cheung, M, Construction law in 2019: a review of key legal and industry developments; Cheung, M, Construction law in 2020: a review of key legal and industry developments; and Cheung, M, Construction law in 2021: a review of key legal and industry developments.
2 Eliot, TS, “Burnt Norton”, Four Quartets (1943), at line 1.
3 Lord Reed of Allermuir, “Time Present and Time Past: Legal Development and Legal Tradition in the Common Law”, The Neill Law Lecture 2022, delivered at the University Oxford on 25 February 2022.