Building regulations compliance tipped for increased scrutiny

Out-Law News | 07 Oct 2020 | 2:20 pm | 1 min. read

Businesses, including construction companies, can expect their compliance with building regulations to be subject to increased scrutiny in the UK in the months and years ahead, an expert in health and safety law has said.

Louise Mansfield of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, made the prediction after Birmingham City Council considered compliance with building regulations as a factor in a recent prosecution of the owner of a banqueting suite and a builder in the city.

In 2017, the ceiling of the Al-Miraj Banqueting Suite in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, collapsed. Six people were injured. Both the venue owner and the builder responsible for installing a new suspended ceiling at the venue admitted to breaching health and safety law. The Birmingham Mail has now reported that the Crown Court in the city had ordered the venue owner to pay a fine of £12,000 on top of court costs of £3,000, and given the builder a four-month suspended prison sentence and told him to pay £2,000 in court costs.

"It is interesting that although this was a prosecution under health and safety law, the failure to comply with the building regulations, including the use of an unsuitable lighting layout plan and a failure to submit structural drawings to Birmingham City Council, was used as evidence against the builder himself and also the owner of the venue," Mansfield said.

"Compliance with building regulations is likely to feature more often in health and safety cases and lead to more prosecutions in the future given the Health and Safety Executive’s new role as the new regulator for building safety, and therefore increasing experience, in regulating building safety, working with local authority building control and approved inspectors and advising on changes to the building regulations. It is vital that those involved in building work ensure that the building regulations are complied with, and are mindful of forthcoming reforms," she said

Although the fine in this case was modest and the builder involved was an individual, it serves as a stark message of the importance of ensuring compliance with building regulations for both building owners and construction companies. It is lucky that no-one was seriously injured or killed, the consequences – and the penalties for the defendants – could have been much worse," Mansfield said.