JMW Property Litigation specialist lawyer warns government that forcing developers to sign up an industry-funded repair scheme may result in judicial review

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze, the government has given property developers six weeks to sign up to an industry-funded £2bn repair scheme aimed at protecting thousands of tenants in England, or face “significant consequences” but a specialist property litigator has cautioned that such action could result in the government policy facing a judicial review and for the process of repairing affected buildings to be delayed further.

Richard Glover, specialist property litigator and partner with law firm JMW, said:

“The government seeks effectively to press-gang developers into entering an agreement, threatening them with severe consequences, such as being refused planning permission, if they do not sign up.


“However, from a legal standpoint forcing developers to enter into the proposed agreements might prove an issue for them. If developers don’t sign up and find themselves frozen out of the market as a result, then those developers are likely to sue, opening up the strong possibility of a judicial review of the government policy. There would be very real risk that the threat of sanctions being imposed on those developers who did not enter into these contracts would not withstand challenge by judicial review, given that most buildings now requiring remedial work were at the time built entirely in accordance with existing government regulations.

“Further, while no doubt that the government pushed through this policy with the best of intentions, it may well have the opposite effect to what they were trying to achieve. There has been a constant state of flux regarding fire safety remediation work since the Grenfell disaster and this latest step adds another ‘option’ into the mix for leaseholders and property managers which will no doubt feed the paralysis that currently exists.”

The government and the housing industry have been grappling for more than five years over how to remedy safety flaws in high-rise buildings that were at the source of the Grenfell tragedy.  But Richard Glover believes the proposed contract is not the answer, adding: “There is also the wider public policy issue of the housing crisis being made worse by preventing experienced house builders from building new properties.”

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