The Construction Contracts Bill passed all stages of the Houses of the Oireachtas in July 2013 and was signed into law on the 29 July 2013. The enactment of the legislation marked a significant step towards the Programme for Government commitment to introduce new legislation to protect small building subcontractors that have been denied payments from bigger companies.
The frustration that many contractors experience when faced with non-payment is understood and is being acted upon by Government. However, drafting legislation that cuts across the conventions of contract law and, in particular, to intervene in private agreements between individuals is not undertaken lightly. The mechanisms required for the successful delivery of the legislation are complex and, although similar legislation operates in other jurisdictions, aspects of the Act such as the panel of adjudicators must be carefully considered to ensure the Act will operate as intended. Two further steps are necessary for the operation of the legislation prior to its commencement. The first; a comprehensive code of practice for the conduct of adjudication, has been the subject of consultation with key stakeholders. The final draft of the code of practice was circulated to stakeholders in March. The second element requires the establishment of a panel of adjudicators and a chair of that panel to be appointed. The chair of the panel will appoint an adjudicator where parties to a payment dispute (that has been referred to adjudication under the Act) fail to agree on an adjudicator between them.
Officials in my department are working on the details of the structure for the panel, its set up and operation and this will shortly be circulated to stakeholders for consultation. Once this process is concluded, applications for the panel will be advertised and when the appointment process to the panel is complete the Act will be commenced.