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Bishop & Sewell launches specialist building safety group as demand for advice surges

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Bishop & Sewell launches specialist building safety group as demand for advice surges

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The firm forms Building Safety Group to address increased demand for building and fire safety advice

With significant changes to building safety law looming, London law firm Bishop & Sewell has launched a specialist Building Safety Group. This cross-departmental team is designed to assist clients in navigating the intricate issues related to building and fire safety.

The introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) has led to a notable rise in enquiries, primarily from landlords, their agents, and leaseholders. Responding to this demand, Bishop & Sewell's new group includes experts from construction, residential property, commercial property, leasehold enfranchisement, and property litigation, offering a comprehensive advisory service.

Mark Chick, Senior Partner and Head of the Landlord and Tenant team at Bishop & Sewell, stated: “Since the BSA came into force, we’ve seen a massive surge in enquiries across various of the firm’s departments, including our residential and commercial property, enfranchisement and litigation teams. We established the Building Safety working group to streamline the process for our clients, share best practices, and manage the high volume of enquiries due to the BSA legislation. By pooling our knowledge and resources, the new group aims to provide our clients with an effective one-stop-shop for all building and fire safety legal matters.”

Looking forward, the BSA will be amended by the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 (LFRA) starting July 24, 2024. The LFRA will enhance and extend protections, holding freeholders and developers accountable for funding building remediation work.

Mark Chick explained: “These changes will have a huge impact as the current remedies available to parties applying to the First-tier Tribunal (‘FTT’) to resolve building safety defects under the BSA will increase. Amendments such as the new definition of relevant steps, and changes to allow recovery of legal costs by residents, are likely to increase the number of claims for remediation orders and remediation contribution orders faced by landlords. Implementing these changes is also likely to add considerably to the cost faced by landlords and developers as relevant steps can include waking watches and/or fire detection and alarm systems, although the sector has had time to prepare for the changes."

The amendments aim to clarify and strengthen the protections under the BSA and correct certain flaws in the original Act. While many provisions will not be enacted immediately, commencement dates for other provisions will be confirmed after the General Election, likely under the new Labour government.

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