Meaning of a "construction contract" under Construction Act 1996 article banner image

In the recent case of Savoye and Savoye Ltd v Spicers Ltd, the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) has enforced an adjudicator’s decision, holding that the parties’ contract for the installation of an industrial conveyor belt system was a construction contract for the purposes of sections 104 and 105 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (Construction Act 1996).

Abandoned hall, several images available

Although dependant on its facts, this judgment is interesting, because the court:-

• Suggested that authorities from the law of real property relating to fixtures are not “incorporated lock, stock and barrel” into the Construction Act 1996 when determining whether something “formed … part of the land”;

• Considered detailed evidence on whether the conveyor system was attached to the floor of the warehouse (it was, by m ore than 2,000 bolts);

• Had previously declined to order summary judgment to enforce the adjudicator’s decision in favour of the claimant, on the basis that there was an issue to be tried in connection with whether this was a construction contract.

The judgment refers to numerous old authorities unrelated to the Construction Act 1996. This may make it valuable to a party with a similar dispute. For others, it demonstrates a potential advantage in avoiding satellite litigation about whether a contract is a construction contract, by agreeing to use adjudication (as a contractual right) if their contract sits in a grey area.

Chris Harper is a partner and head of the dispute resolution team in Exeter. He specialises in commercial litigation and is named as a leader in his field by independent guides to the legal profession Legal 500 and Chambers. To contact Chris please call 01392 210700 or email