REALWorld Law


General construction law

What are the main sources of law that govern and regulate contracts for the design or carrying out of building works?

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union is likely to cause some uncertainty. Fiscal consequences may include changes in Stamp Duty Land Tax (England), Land and Building Transaction Tax (Scotland) and Land Transaction Tax (Wales). There may well be some other changes. If you have a contact in DLA Piper, please do check the latest position with him or her.

Although European law is transposed into local law through statutes, the legal system in England and Wales is based on common law. This means that the law and corresponding legal system derives from judges’ decisions and is developed by the courts and similar tribunals (called case law), rather than through constitutions or legislative codes and statutes.

In England and Wales, construction law is made up of six main bodies of law:

  • Contract law – the law that governs agreements and arrangements between parties
  • Law of tort – the law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations
  • Legislation – various statutes and subordinate legislation (regulations, orders etc) govern the carrying out of construction operations
  • Breach of statutory duty – this is a failure to carry out duties or to fulfil obligations imposed by legislation. An injured person may make a civil claim if it has suffered injury as a result of the breach (unless specifically excluded in the statute itself)
  • Law of restitution – this area of law is concerned with the award of remedies which have one common function – to deprive the defendant of a gain, rather than to compensate the claimant for loss suffered
  • Criminal law – sanctions are imposed for acts and omissions which constitute criminal activity under English law