IT IS NOW two years since the Construction Act came into force. And judging by the fall in the number of construction disputes reaching the High Courts, it is fair to say it has been a qualified success when it comes to driving out contractual and payment abuses.
The uptake of adjudication ranks as the biggest advance, nipping in the bud many site disputes before they run into damaging and costly legal battles.
It seemed the only losers would be the lawyers.
But this is not proving to be the case. There now appears to be an army of experts drawing up cleverly-worded clauses for contracts. Unsurprisingly, subcontractors interpret such alterations as attempts to side-step the spirit of the legislation.
The substitution of pay-when-paid for pay-when-certified clauses are often cited as an example of such tinkering. This offers a means of delaying payment to subcontractors but it is equally important to main contractors as a means of ensuring they will be paid in full by clients.
The question is whether such clauses are being systematically abused, and on this point subcontractors and main contractors disagree.
A government review may be a costly means of finding out who is right, but it could save the industry a lot of money in the longer term.