Fire related issues - court quashes part of the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018

The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 deal with the banning of combustible cladding in the external walls in high-rise residential buildings in England.

Regulation 2(6) (b) (ii) banned “a device for reducing heat gain within a building by deflecting sunlight which is attached to an external wall” unless it has been certified as complying with either certain European Classifications or certain British Standards.

In the public consultation that took place prior to the introduction of the regulations, it was not clear that the banning of such devices was being contemplated. Nor did the Government directly consult the British Blind and Shutter Association, which was founded in 1919 and which is "the only trade association for blinds, awnings, shutters and associated services such as motors, controls, software and blind cleaning in the United Kingdom”.

The Administrative Court has held that the consultation in relation to regulation 2(6) (b) (ii) was so unfair as to be unlawful and has quashed this provision. It was not swayed by one of the Secretary of State’s arguments that a procedural failing should not justify jeopardising public safety (there was no evidence before the Court that the use of combustible materials in products such as shutters, blinds or awnings exacerbated fire spread in relation to fires starting on balconies and spreading as a result of combustible cladding).

[British Blind and Shutter Association, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2019] EWHC 3162]

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