Published 11 October 2011
The Government has called in the Law Commission to review joint & several liability in the construction industry.
One change being considered is a switch to proportionate liability, so parties would have to contribute a set amount that reflected how much they contributed to the loss or damage.
Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said yesterday the Building Act review had identified some issues with the way joint & several liability worked in practice in the building sector, and also considered other possible options such as proportionate liability.
He said the Law Commission would provide a broader review of the issue. The Government has released a Cabinet paper & related review documents (see the links below).
The Department of Building & Housing said: “The Building Act will be amended so it’s clearer to builders, designers, building consent authorities & consumers who’s accountable for what. New measures will also be introduced to make it easier for homeowners to hold builders to account.
The amendments to the act will make it clear that:
designers are accountable for ensuring that their plans, specifications & advice will meet the requirements of the building codebuilders are accountable for building to any approved plans & specifications, or if there are no approved plans or specifications then they are accountable for meeting the requirements of the building codeowners of building work are accountable for getting any necessary approvals; if they change the plans or specifications, or do the building work themselves, then they are accountable for meeting the requirements of the building codebuilding consent authorities are accountable for checking that others are doing their part – including checking plans & specifications for building code compliance, checking at any prescribed inspection points that work is done in accordance with the plans & specifications, approving any critical variations and certifying that the work has been completed in accordance with the consent.”
The department said a review of the Building Act found “the system is out of balance, with an unduly heavy reliance on building consent authorities to identify & correct inadequacies in building design & construction.
“Building consent authorities are inclined to err on the side of caution, partly in response to the weathertightness crisis, and this has led to a level of checking & inspection that may be higher than necessary for low-risk work. This can cause delays & extra compliance costs. The weathertightness crisis has also shown that it can be difficult for homeowners to hold those responsible for problems to account.”
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Attribution: Ministerial release, department website, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.