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Building Safety Act 2022 has implications for professional indemnity & product liability insurance

The Building Safety Bill has achieved Royal Assent in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and requires external walls  to be considered as part of any fire risk assessment. This has implications for the professional indemnity insurance(PII) market which The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) believes is still too weak to meet the needs of the industry.

 The Grenfell tragedy in 2017 helped bring about the Building Safety Act 2022  which along with the Fire Safety Act 2021,  is designed to encompass safety across the design, construction and management of buildings, establishing new legal requirements designed to meet fire safety competency standards.

 The Act places a duty on ‘Accountable Persons’ and ‘Responsible Persons’ to confirm the competency of any fire risk assessor whom they appoint to assist them in undertaking a building fire risk assessment.

The Fire Sector Federation has made it clear it views this as ‘an opportunity missed’ at a time when fire risk assessors are facing issues around professional indemnity insurance cover and rising costs of premiums. There are also concerns the Act does not stop the practise of allowing unqualified individuals to assess fire risk.

Dennis Davis, executive officer at the Fire Sector Federation, said: “Those accountable for building and fire safety, including fire risk assessors operating without clearly demonstrable competency, need to make sure they’re ready now. We need to face up to these challenges if we are to avoid a ‘perfect storm’ in the fire risk assessor sector which could undermine fire safety in our buildings.”

The Fire Sector Federation is set to publish a new industry standard for the general fire risk assessor that establishes three competency levels matched to three generic types of building risk.

Eddie Tuttle director of policy, external affairs and research at the Chartered Institute of Building, stated: “We are pleased the Building Safety Bill has received Royal Assent to ensure building safety is a priority and to provide much needed accountability in the system. This move delivers long overdue certainty for the industry. The next 12-to-18 months will be crucial in preparing built environment professionals for the new roles and competencies that will be required.”

The Act includes a clause which creates liability for construction products installed on or within residential premises that result in the dwelling becoming unfit for human habitation. This means that construction products must comply with specific conditions for marketing and technical specifications. No misleading statements can be made in relation to these products. 

The Act empowers anyone with a right or interest in the dwelling to raise a claim against a party that breaches this new stipulation. It will also see the creation of a ‘construction products regulator’ that has the power to remove certain products from the market. 

W Denis Insurance Brokers has been arranging insurance for more than 50 years with particular specialism in all types of insurance related to the built environment. Please contact: Mark.dutton@wdenis.co.uk or on 0044 (0) 7831366469, daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk  or on 0044 (0)113 2439812 if you would like to obtain a quotation or wish to discuss any insurance related issue.

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