In URS Corporation Ltd v BDW Trading Ltd [2023] EWCA Civ 189 the Court of Appeal decided that two appeals concerning issues arising under the Building Safety Act 2022 (“BSA”) should be heard together.

The Background to the Case

The developer, URS Corporation Limited, (“URS”) engaged BDW Trading Limited (“BDW”) to carry out structural design work for a block of flats (the “Property”). Following the discovery of structural defects at the Property and other blocks designed by BDW, URS sought to recover from BDW the costs of repair.

The First Appeal

A preliminary assessment found that URS’ alleged losses were recoverable in principle and URS’ cause of action accrued at practical completion and not a later date. BDW was granted permission to appeal against this decision (the “First Appeal”).

The Second Appeal

In reliance on newly extended limitation provisions introduced by the BSA 2022 (which came into force on 28 June 2022), URS successfully applied to amend its claim to refer to section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978. BDW was granted permission to appeal against this decision (the “Second Appeal”) because:

  • While it was arguable that the First Appeal could not succeed owing to the BSA’s longer limitation periods, that did not render the appeal “entirely academic”, so it should proceed as planned.
  • The issues raised in the Second Appeal should be heard alongside the First Appeal because the issues raised were “closely entwined”, as were the procedural consequences. The appeals related to new legislation (the BSA) and the issues raised were novel in that they had never been considered before. Guidance on the issues would, therefore, be helpful. This constituted “some other compelling reason for the appeal to be heard” under CPR 52.6(1)(b) regardless of prospects of success.

The Appeals

These now conjoined appeals are set to be heard in April 2023, and the court’s promised guidance as to how the newly extended limitation provisions might impact ongoing and future claims concerning defective buildings will be eagerly anticipated.

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