The Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Phase 1 report overview – non-compliance with Building Regulations

31st Oct 2019

Stephanie Barwise QC, Omar Eljadi, Dalton Hale and Marie-Claire O’Kane are representing one of two groups of bereaved and survivors in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Stephanie Barwise QC, on first appearing at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, asked the Chairman to find the cladding system non-compliant with functional requirement B4(1) of the Building Regulations on the basis that it promoted rather than “adequately resisted“ flame spread.

In his Phase 1 report, the Chair adopted those submissions finding both the cladding panels and the cladding system as a whole non-compliant with B4(1).

This has ramifications for ongoing cladding disputes around the country and it paves the way to arguing non-compliance of any single element of the cladding system means non-compliance of the entire system .The finding that the functional requirement B4(1) of the Regulations was breached by the cladding system obviates the need to examine the guidance to the Building Regulations, Approved Document B, thereby circumventing any difficulty posed by lack of clarity in Approved Document B.

Further information

See point 2.16 Compliance with the Building Regulations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Phase 1 report overview (Report of the Public Inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 – click here for details).

The Chairman, The Rt Hon Sir Martin Moore-Bick, states in the overview re: Compliance with the Building Regulations “It was not my original intention to include in Phase 1 of the Inquiry an investigation into the extent to which the building complied with the requirements of the Building Regulations. However, as I have explained in Chapter 26, there was compelling evidence that the external walls of the building failed to comply with Requirement B4(1) of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010, in that they did not adequately resist the spread of fire having regard to the height, use and position of the building. On the contrary, they actively promoted it. It will be necessary in Phase 2 to examine why those who were responsible for the design of the refurbishment considered that the tower would meet that essential requirement.”

Further details are contained in Chapter 26: Compliance with Building Regulations (volume 4 of the Phase 1 report – click here for a copy) states that “A group of core participants submitted that the construction of the Building Regulations 2010 is ultimately a question of law which I can decide at this stage of the Inquiry. They argued that there is clear evidence that the facade did not meet functional requirement B4(1) of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations,2 which requires the external walls of a building “to adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls … having regard to the height, use and position of the building”.

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