Property Bar Assoc

The tragic events of 14 June 2017 at Grenfell Tower had an almost unprecedented impact. 

Most obviously, for the family and friends of those that died or sustained serious injury. For them, they look to the Judge-led Inquiry (, currently underway, for answers and (ideally) accountability. It is essential that the Inquiry is scrupulous in its attention to detail and its independence; we can have little doubt it will achieve both. 

But the impact is also felt more widely. 

Taking the Inquiry, the firefighters, the local authority, contractors and materials manufacturers who were directly involved in Grenfell will all, understandably, be anxious ensure that their own actions are scrutinised fairly and objectively; they will largely be legally represented by solicitors and barristers with that aim in mind. 

Wider still, thousands of people are still living in high rise blocks clad in unsafe materials, built in a manner that probably never would have complied with building standards at the time. Inevitably, this situation puts parties at odds with each other: building owners with developers; developers with sub-contractors and designers; leaseholders with building owners; leaseholders, building owners and developers with building control. 

Many of these disputes are difficult to resolve by negotiation; by way of example, individual leaseholders who have recently purchased their flat are very unlikely to be willing to pay £25,000 or more to remedy defects in the construction of their block, but equally, their landlord - who had nothing to do with the development and has limited monetary interest in the block - doesn't wish to fund (and may not be able to fund) the multi-million pound cost either. 

The Courts and Tribunals are already seeing a substantial increase in work arising out of these disputes, and as the focus turns to other materials and building methods that also present a risk to fire safety, the number of cases is likely to climb. 

We all need to be able to trust the Inquiry, the Tribunals, Courts, central Government - all decision makers - to reach proper objective conclusions and recommendations in accord with the law. Whether we live in high rise blocks of flats or not, fire safety is an issue that affects all of us. We have to get this right. 

Integral to that is our system of justice in this country; whilst it isn't always possible or proportionate, ideally all parties involved, on all sides, would be represented without fear or favour. Whether or not represented, we can be confident they will nonetheless be judged in an impartial and independent way. Fortunately for us all, despite considerable threats, justice is something we largely do very well in this country. It is vital that continues. 

Simon Allison, Secretary of the Property Bar Association